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The Man Who Was
G. K. CHESTERTON
Author of " Varied Types,'"
'* Charles Dickens. A Critical Study,'" etc.
DODD, MEAD AND COMPANY
Copyright, 1908, by
DoDD, Mead & Company
Published, March, igo8
CDmunb Clerifjeto Pentlep
A cloud was on the mind of men, and wailing went the weather,
Yea, a sick cloud upon the soul when we were boys together.
Science announced nonentity and art admired decay ;
The world was old and ended : but you and I were gay.
Round us in antic order their crippled vices came —
Lust that had lost its laughter, fear that had lost its shame.
Like the white lock of Whistler, that lit our aimless gloom,
Men showed their own white feather as proudly as a plume.
Life was a fly that faded, and death a drone that stung ;
The world was very old indeed when you and I were young.
They twisted even decent sin to shapes not to be named ;
Men were ashamed of honour ; but we were not ashamed.
Weak if we were and foolish, not thus we failed, not thus ;
When that black Baal blocked the heavens he had no hymns from U3.
Children we were — our forts of sand were even as weak as we,
High as they went we piled them up to break that bitter sea.
Fools as we were in motley, all jangling and absurd.
When all church bells were silent our cap and bells were heard.
Not all unhelped we held the fort, our tiny flags unfurled ;
Some giants laboured in that cloud to lift it from the world.
I find again the book we found, I feel the hour that Hings
Far out of fish-shaped Paumanok some cry of cleaner things ;
And the Green Carnation withered, as in forest fires that pass.
Roared in the wind of all the world ten million leaves of grass }
Or sane and sweet and sudden as a bird sings in the rain —
Truth out of Tusitala spoke and pleasure out of pain.
Yea, cool and clear and sudden as a bird sings in the grey,
Dunedin to Samoa spoke, and darkness unto day.
But we were young ; we lived to see God break their bitter charms,
God and the good Republic come riding back in arms :
We have seen the City of Mansoul, even as it rocked, relieved —
Blessed are they who did not see, but being blind, believed.
This is a tale of those old fears, even of those emptied hells.
And none but you shall understand the true thing that it tells —
Of what colossal gods of shame could cow men and yet crash.
Of what huge devils hid the stars, yet fell at a pistol Hash.
The doubts that were so plain to chase, so dreadful to withstand —
Oh, who shall understand but you ; yea, who shall understand ?
The doubts that drove us through the night as we two talked amain,
And day had broken on the streets e'er it broke upon the brain.
Between us, by the peace of God, such truth can now be told ;
Yea, there is strength in striking root, and good in growing old.
We have found common things at last, and marriage and a creed.
And I may safely write it now, and you may solely read
G. K. C.
I The Two Poets of Saffron Park
II The Secret of Gabriel Syme .
III The Man who was Thursday
IV The Tale of a Detective
V The Feast of Fear .
VI The Exposure ....
VII The Unaccountable Conduct of
Professor De Worms .
VIII The Professor Explains .
IX The Man in Spectacles .
X The Duel ....
XI The Criminals Chase the Police
XII The Earth in Anarchy .
XIII The Pursuit of the President
XIV The Six Philosophers
XV The Accuser ....
The Man who was Thursday
THE TWO POETS OF SAFFRON PARK
The suburb of Saffron Park lay on the sunset side
of London, as red and ragged as a cloud of sunset.
It was built of a bright brick throughout ; its sky-
line was fantastic, and even its ground plan was wild.
It had been the outburst of a speculative builder,
faintly tinged with art, who called its architecture
sometimes Elizabethan and sometimes Queen Anne,
apparently under the impression that the two
sovereigns were identical. It was described with
some justice as an artistic colony, though it never in
any definable way produced any art. But although
its pretensions to be an intellectual centre were a
little vague, its pretensions to be a pleasant place
were quite indisputable. The stranger who looked
for the first time at the quaint red houses could only
think how very oddly shaped the people must be
who could fit in to them. Nor when he met the
people was he disappointed in this respect. The
2 THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
place was not only pleasant, but perfect, if once he
could regard it not as a deception but rather as a
dream. Even if the people were not " artists," the
whole was nevertheless artistic. That young man
with the long, auburn hair and the impudent face —
that young man was not really a poet ; but surely
he was a poem. That old gentleman with the wild,
white beard and the wild, white hat — that venerable
humbug was not really a philosopher ; but at least
he was the cause of philosophy in others. That
scientific gentleman with the bald, egg-Uke head
and the bare, bird-like neck had no real right to the
airs of science that he assumed. He had not dis-
covered anything new in biology ; but what biolog-
ical creature could he have discovered more singular
than himself ? Thus, and thus only, the whole place
had properly to be regarded ; it had to be considered
not so much as a workshop for artists, but as a frail
but finished work of art. A man who stepped into
its social atmosphere felt as if he had stepped into a
More especially this attractive unreality fell upon
it about nightfall, when the extravagant roofs were
dark against the afterglow and the whole insane
village seemed as separate as a drifting cloud. This
again was more strongly true of the many nights of
THE TWO POETS OF SAFFRON PARK 3
local festivity, when the little gardens were often il-
luminated, and the big Chinese lanterns glowed in
the dwarfish trees hke some fierce and monstrous
fruit. And this was strongest of all on one particu-
lar evening, still vaguely remembered in the locality,
of which the auburn-haired poet was the hero. It
was not by any means the only evening of which he
was the hero. On many nights those passing by
his little back garden might hear his high, didactic
voice laying down the law to men and particularly
to women. The attitude of women in such cases
was indeed one of the paradoxes of the place. Most
of the women were of the kind vaguely called
emancipated, and professed some protest against
male supremacy. Yet these new women would al-
ways pay to a man the extravagant compliment
which no ordinary woman ever pays to him, that of
listening while he is talking. And Mr. Lucian
Gregory, the red-haired poet, was really (in some
sense) a man worth listening to, even if one only
laughed at the end of it. He put the old cant of the
lawlessness of art and the art of lawlessness with a
certain impudent freshness which gave at least a
momentary pleasure. He was helped in some de-
gree by the arresting oddity of his appearance,
which he worked, as the phrase goes, for all it was
4 THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
worth. His dark red hair parted in the middle was
literally like a woman's, and curved into the slow
curls of a virgin in a pre-Raphaelite picture. From
within this almost saintly oval, however, his face
projected suddenly broad and brutal, the chin car-
ried forward with a look of cockney contempt.
This combination at once tickled and terrified the
nerves of a neurotic population. He seemed like
a walking blasphemy, a blend of the angel and the
This particular evening, if it is remembered for
nothing else, will be remembered in that place for
its strange sunset. It looked like the end of the
world. All the heaven seemed covered with a quite
vivid and palpable plumage; you could only say
that the sky was full of feathers, and of feathers that
almost brushed the face. Across the great part of
the dome they were grey, with the strangest tints
of violet and mauve and an unnatural pink or pale
green ; but towards the west the whole grew past
description, transparent and passionate, and the last
red-hot plumes of it covered up the sun like some-
thing too good to be seen. The whole was so close
about the earth, as to express nothing but a violent
secrecy. The very empyrean seemed to be a secret.
It expressed that splendid smallness which is the
THE TWO POETS OF SAFFRON PARK 5
soul of local patriotism. The very sky seemed
I say that there are some inhabitants who may
remember the evening if only by that oppressive
sky. There are others who may remember it be-
cause it marked the first appearance in the place of
the second poet of Saffron Park. For a long time
the red-haired revolutionary had reigned without a
rival; it was upon the night of the sunset that his
solitude suddenly ended. The new poet, who intro-
duced himself by the name of Gabriel Syme, was a
very mild-looking mortal, with a fair, pointed beard
and faint, yellow hair. But an impression grew that
he was less meek than he looked. He signalised
his entrance by differing with the established poet,
Gregory, upon the whole nature of poetry. He said
that he (Syme) was a poet of law, a poet of order ;
nay, he said he was a poet of respectability. So all
the Saffron Parkers looked at him as if he had that
moment fallen out of that impossible sky.
In fact, Mr. Lucian Gregory, the anarchic poet,
connected the two events.
" It may well be," he said, in his sudden lyrical
manner, " it may well be on such a night of clouds
and cruel colours that there is brought forth upon
the earth such a portent as a respectable poet. You
6 THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
say you are a poet of law ; I say you are a contra-
diction in terms. I only wonder there were not
comets and earthquakes on the night you appeared
in this garden."
The man with the meek blue eyes and the pale,
pointed beard endured these thunders with a certain
submissive solemnity. The third party of the group,
Gregory's sister Rosamond, who had her brother's
braids of red hair, but a kindlier face underneath
them, laughed with such mixture of admiration and
disapproval as she gave commonly to the family
Gregory resumed in high oratorical good-humour.
*' An artist is identical with an anarchist," he
cried. " You might transpose the words anywhere.
An anarchist is an artist. The man who throws a
bomb is an artist, because he prefers a great moment
to everything. He sees how much more valuable is
one burst of blazing light, one peal of perfect thun-
der, than the mere common bodies of a few shape-
less policemen. An artist disregards all govern-
ments, abolishes all conventions. The poet delights
in disorder only. If it were not so, the most poet-
ical thing in the world would be the Underground
" So it is," said Mr. Syme.
THE TWO POETS OF SAFFRON PARK 7
" Nonsense ! " said Gregory, who was very rational
when any one else attempted paradox. " Why do all
the clerks and navvies in the railway trains look so
sad and tired, so very sad and tired ? I will tell
you. It is because they know that the train is
going right. It is because they know that what-
ever place they have taken a ticket for that place
they will reach. It is because after they have
passed Sloane Square they know that the next sta-
tion must be Victoria, and nothing but Victoria.
Oh, their wild rapture ! oh, their eyes like stars and
their souls again in Eden, if the next station were
unaccountably Baker Street ! "
" It is you who are unpoetical," replied the poet
Syme. " If what you say of clerks is true, they can
only be as prosaic as your poetry. The rare, strange
thing is to hit the mark ; the gross, obvious thing is
to miss it. We feel it is epical when man with one
wild arrow strikes a distant bird. Is it not also epical
when man with one wild engine strikes a distant
station ? Chaos is dull ; because in chaos the train
might indeed go anywhere, to Baker Street or to
Bagdad. But man is a magician, and his whole
magic is in this, that he does say Victoria, and lo !
it is Victoria. No, take your books of mere poetry
and prose ; let me read a time table, with tears of
8 THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
pride. Take your Byron, who commemorates the
defeats of man ; give me Bradshaw, who commemo-
rates his victories. Give me Bradshaw, I say ! "
" Must you go ? " inquired Gregory sarcastically.
" I tell you," went on Syme with passion, " that
every time a train comes in I feel that it has broken
past batteries of besiegers, and that man has won a
battle against chaos. You say contemptuously
that when one has left Sloane Square one must come
to Victoria. I say that one might do a thousand
things instead, and that whenever I really come
there I have the sense of hair-breadth escape. And
when I hear the guard shout out the word ' Vic-
toria,' it is not an unmeaning word. It is to me
the cry of a herald announcing conquest. It is to
me indeed * Victoria' ; it is the victory of Adam."
Gregory wagged his heavy, red head with a slow
and sad smile.
" And even then," he said, " we poets always ask
the question, ' And what is Victoria now that you
have got there?' You think Victoria is Hke the
New Jerusalem. We know that the New Jerusa-
lem will only be like Victoria. Yes, the poet will
be discontented even in the streets of heaven.
The poet is always in revolt."
"There again," said Syme irritably, "what is
THE TWO POETS OF SAFFRON PARK 9
there poetical about being in revolt? You might
as well say that it is poetical to be seasick. Being
sick is a revolt. Both being sick and being re-
bellious may be the wholesome thing on certain
desperate occasions ; but I'm hanged if I can see
why they are poetical. Revolt in the abstract is —
revolting. It's mere vomiting."
The girl winced for a flash at the unpleasant
word, but Syme was too hot to heed her.
" It is things going right," he cried, " that is po-
etical ! Our digestions, for instance, going sacredly
and silently right, that is the foundation of all
poetry. Yes, the most poetical thing, more po-
etical than the flowers, more poetical than the
stars — the most poetical thing in the world is not
" Really," said Gregory, superciliously, " the
examples you choose "
" I beg your pardon," said Syme grimly, " I for-
got we had abolished all conventions."
For the first time a red patch appeared on
" You don't expect me," he said, " to revolution-
ise society on this lawn ? "
Syme looked straight into his eyes and smiled
lo THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
" No, I don't," he said; " but I suppose that if
you were serious about your anarchism, that is
exactly what you would do."
Gregory's big bull's eyes blinked suddenly like
those of an angry lion, and one could almost fancy
that his red mane rose.
" Don't you think, then," he said in a dangerous
voice, " that I am serious about my anarchism ? "
" I beg your pardon ? " said Syme.
" Am I not serious about my anarchism ? " cried
Gregory, with knotted fists.
" My dear fellow ! " said Syme, and strolled
With surprise, but with a curious pleasure, he
found Rosamond Gregory still in his company.
" Mr. Syme," she said, " do the people who talk
like you and my brother often mean what they
say ? Do you mean what you say now ? "
" Do you ? " he asked.
" What do you mean ? " asked the girl, with
" My dear Miss Gregory," said Syme gently,
" there are many kinds of sincerity and insincerity.
When you say * thank you ' for the salt, do you
mean what you say ? No. When you say * the
THE TWO POETS OF SAFFRON PARK ii
world is round/ do you mean what you say ? No.
It is true, but you don't mean it. Now, sometimes
a man like your brother really finds a thing he does
mean. It may be only a half-truth, quarter-truth,
tenth-truth ; but then he says more than he means
— from sheer force of meaning it."
She was looking at him from under level brows ;
her face was grave and open, and there had fallen
upon it the shadow of that unreasoning responsi-
bility which is at the bottom of the most frivolous
woman, the maternal watch which is as old as the
" Is he really an anarchist, then ? " she asked.
" Only in that sense I speak of," replied Syme ;
" or if you prefer it, in that nonsense."
She drew her broad brows together and said
" He wouldn't really use — bombs or that sort of
thing ? "
Syme broke into a great laugh, that seemed too
large for his slight and somewhat dandified figure.
" Good Lord, no ! " he said, " that has to be done
And at that the corners of her own mouth broke
into a smile, and she thought with a simultaneous
pleasure of Gregory's absurdity and of his safety.
12 THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
Syme strolled with her to a seat in the corner of
the garden, and continued to pour out his opinions.
For he was a sincere man, and in spite of his super-
ficial airs and graces, at root a humble one. And it
is always the humble man who talks too much ; the
proud man watches himself too closely. He de-
fended respectability with violence and exaggera-
tion. He grew passionate in his praise of tidiness
and propriety. All the time there was a smell of
lilac all round him. Once he heard very faintly in
some distant street a barrel-organ begin to play,
and it seemed to him that his heroic words were
moving to a tiny tune from under or beyond the
He stared and talked at the girl's red hair and
amused face for what seemed to be a few minutes ;
and then, feeling that the groups in such a place
should mix, rose to his feet. To his astonishment,
he discovered the whole garden empty. Every one
had gone long ago, and he went himself with a
rather hurried apology. He left with a sense of
champagne in his head, which he could not after-
wards explain. In the wild events which were to
follow this girl had no part at all ; he never saw her
again until all his tale was over. And yet, in some
indescribable way, she kept recurring like a motive
THE TWO POETS OF SAFFRON PARK 13
in music through all his mad adventures afterwards,
and the glory of her strange hair ran like a red
thread through those dark and ill-drawn tapestries
of the night. For what followed was so improb-
able, that it might well have been a dream.
When Syme went out into the starht street, he
found it for the moment empty. Then he realised
(in some odd way) that the silence was rather a
living silence than a dead one. Directly outside
the door stood a street lamp, whose gleam gilded
the leaves of the tree that bent out over the fence
behind him. About a foot from the lamp-post
stood a figure almost as rigid and motionless as the
lamp-post itself. The tall hat and long frock-coat
were black; the face, in an abrupt shadow, was
almost as dark. Only a fringe of fiery hair against
the light, and also something aggressive in the
attitude, proclaimed that it was the poet Gregory.
He had something of the look of a masked bravo
waiting sword in hand for his foe.
He made a sort of doubtful salute, which Syme
somewhat more formally returned.
" I was waiting for you," said Gregory. " Might
I have a moment's conversation ? "
" Certainly. About what ? " asked Syme in a sort
of weak wonder.
14 THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
Gregory struck out with his stick at the lamp-
post, and then at the tree.
«' About this and this" he cried ; " about order
and anarchy. There is your precious order, that
lean, iron lamp, ugly and barren; and there is
anarchy, rich, living, reproducing itself — there is
anarchy, splendid in green and gold."
'* All the same," repHed Syme patiently, "just at
present you only see the tree by the light of the
lamp. I wonder when you would ever see the
lamp by the light of the tree." Then after a pause
he said, " But may I ask if you have been stand-
ing out here in the dark only to resume our little
argument ? "
" No," cried out Gregory, in a voice that rang
down the street, " I did not stand here to resume
our argument, but to end it forever."
The silence fell again, and Syme, though he
understood nothing, listened instinctively for some-
thing serious. Gregory began in a smooth voice
and with a rather bewildering smile.
" Mr. Syme," he said, " this evening you suc-
ceeded in doing something rather remarkable. You
did something to me that no man born of woman
has ever succeeded in doing before."
THE TWO POETS OF SAFFRON PARK 15
" Now I remember," resumed Gregory reflec-
tively, " one other person succeeded in doing it.
The captain of a penny steamer (if I remember cor-
rectly) at Southend. You have irritated me."
" I am very sorry," replied Syme with gravity.
" I am afraid my fury and your insult are too
shocking to be wiped out even with an apology,"
said Gregory very calmly. " No duel could wipe
it out. If I struck you dead I could not wipe it
out. There is only one way by which that insult
can be erased, and that way I choose. I am going,
at the possible sacrifice of my life and honour, to
prove to you that you were wrong in what you said."
" In what I said ? "
" You said I was not serious about being an
" There are degrees of seriousness," replied Syme.
"I have never doubted that you were perfectly
sincere in this sense, that you thought what you
said well worth saying, that you thought a paradox
might wake men up to a neglected truth."
Gregory stared at him steadily and painfully.
" And in no other sense," he asked, "you think
me serious ? You think me a flaneur who lets fall
occasional truths. You do not think that in a
deeper, a more deadly sense, I am serious."
l6 THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
Syme struck his stick violently on the stones of
" Serious ! " he cried. " Good Lord ! is this
street serious ? Are these damned Chinese lanterns
serious ? Is the whole caboodle serious ? One
comes here and talks a pack of bosh, and perhaps
some sense as well, but I should think very little
of a man who didn't keep something in the back-
ground of his life that was more serious than all
this talking — something more serious, whether it
was religion or only drink."
" Very well," said Gregory, his face darkening,
*' you shall see something more serious than either
drink or religion,"
Syme stood waiting with his usual air of mildness
until Gregory again opened his lips.
" You spoke just now of having a religion. Is it
really true that you have one ? "
" Oh," said Syme with a beaming smile, " we are
all Catholics now."
" Then may I ask you to swear by whatever gods
or saints your religion involves that you will not
reveal what I am now going to tell you to any son
of Adam, and especially not to the police? Will
you swear that ! If you will take upon yourself
this awful abnegation, if you will consent to burden
THE TWO POETS OF SAFFRON PARK 17
your soul with a vow that you should never make
and a knowledge you should never dream about, I
will promise you in return "
** You will promise me in return ? " inquired
Syme, as the other paused.
" I will promise you a very entertaining evening."
Syme suddenly took off his hat.
" Your offer," he said, " is far too idiotic to be de-
clined. You say that a poet is always an anarchist.
I disagree ; but I hope at least that he is always a
sportsman. Permit me, here and now, to swear as
a Christian, and promise as a good comrade and a
fellow-artist, that I will not report anything of this,
whatever it is, to the poHce. And now, in the name
of Colney Hatch, what is it ? "
" I think," said Gregory, with placid irrelevancy,
" that we will call a cab."
He gave two long whistles, and a hansom came
ratthng down the road. The two got into it in
silence. Gregory gave through the trap the ad-
dress of an obscure public-house on the Chiswick
bank of the river. The cab whisked itself away
again, and in it these two fantastics quitted their
THE SECRET OF GABRIEL SYME
The cab pulled up before a particularly dreary
and greasy beershop, into which Gregory rapidly
conducted his companion. They seated themselves
in a close and dim sort of bar-parlour, at a stained
wooden table with one wooden leg. The room was
so small and dark, that very little could be seen
of the attendant who was summoned, beyond a
vague and dark impression of something bulky
" Will you take a little supper ? " asked Gregory
politely. " The pate de foie gras is not good here,
but I can recommend the game."
Syme received the remark with stohdity, imagin-
ing it to be a joke. Accepting the vein of humour,
he said, with a well-bred indifference —
*' Oh, bring me some lobster mayonnaise."
To his indescribable astonishment, the man only
said, " Certainly, sir ! " and went away apparently
to get it.
" What will you drink ? " resumed Gregory, with
the same careless yet apologetic air, " I shall only
THE SECRET OF GABRIEL SYME 19
have a crane de menthe myself; I have dined.
But the champagne can really be trusted. Do let
me start you with a half-bottle of Pommery at
least ? "
" Thank you ! " said the motionless Syme. " You
are very good."
His further attempts at conversation, somewhat
disorganised in themselves, were cut short finally as
by a thunderbolt by the actual appearance of the
lobster. Syme tasted it, and found it particularly
good. Then he suddenly began to eat with great
rapidity and appetite.
" Excuse me if I enjoy myself rather obviously ! "
he said to Gregory, smiling. " I don't often have
the luck to have a dream like this. It is new to
me for a nightmare to lead to a lobster. It is com-
monly the other way."
" You are not asleep, I assure you," said Gregory.
" You are, on the contrary, close to the most actual
and rousing moment of your existence. Ah, here
comes your champagne ! I admit that there may
be a slight disproportion, let us say, between the
inner arrangements of this excellent hotel and its
simple and unpretentious exterior. But that is all
our modesty. We are the most modest men that
ever lived on earth."
20 THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
" And who are we ? " asked Syme, emptying his
" It is quite simple," replied Gregory. *' We are
the serious anarchists, in whom you do not be-
" Oh ! " said Syme shortly. " You do yourselves
well in drinks."
" Yes, we are serious about everything," answered
Then after a pause he added —
" If in a few moments this table begins to turn
round a little, don't put it down to your inroads into
the champagne. I don't wish you to do yourself an
" Well, if I am not drunk, I am mad," replied
Syme with perfect calm ; " but I trust I can behave
like a gentleman in either condition. May I
smoke ? "
" Certainly ! " said Gregory, producing a cigar-
case. " Try one of mine."
Syme took the cigar, clipped the end off with a
cigar-cutter out of his waistcoat pocket, put it in his
mouth, lit it slowly, and let out a long cloud of
smoke. It is not a little to his credit that he per-
formed these rites with so much composure, for al-
most before he had begun them the table at which
THE SECRET OF GABRIEL SYME 21
he sat had begun to revolve, first slowly, and then
rapidly, as if at an insane seance.
"You must not mind it," said Gregory; "it's a
kind of screw."
" Quite so," said Syme placidly, " a kind of screw !
How simple that is ! "
The next moment the smoke of his cigar, which
had been wavering across the room in snaky twists,
went straight up as if from a factory chimney, and
the two, with their chairs and table, shot down
through the floor as if the earth had swallowed
them. They went rattling down a kind of roaring
chimney as rapidly as a lift cut loose, and they came
with an abrupt bump to the bottom. But when
Gregory threw open a pair of doors and let in a red
subterranean Hght, Syme was still smoking, with
one leg thrown over the other, and had not turned
a yellow hair.
Gregory led him down a low, vaulted passage, at
the end of which was the red light. It was an
enormous crimson lantern, nearly as big as a fire-
place, fixed over a small but heavy iron door. In
the door there was a sort of hatchway or grating,
and on this Gregory struck five times. A heavy
voice with a foreign accent asked him who he was.
To this he gave the more or less unexpected reply,
22 THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
" Mr. Joseph Chamberlain." The heavy hinges
began to move; it was obviously some kind of
Inside the doorway the passage gleamed as if it
were lined with a network of steel. On a second
glance, Syme saw that the glittering pattern was
really made up of ranks and ranks of rifles and re-
volvers, closely packed or interlocked.
" I must ask you to forgive me all these formali-
ties," said Gregory ; " we have to be very strict here."
" Oh, don't apologise," said Syme. " I know
your passion for law and order," and he stepped
into the passage lined with the steel weapons.
With his long, fair hair and rather foppish frock-
coat, he looked a singularly frail and fanciful figure
as he walked down that shining avenue of death.
They passed through several such passages, and
came out at last into a queer steel chamber with
curved walls, almost spherical in shape, but present-
ing, with its tiers of benches, something of the ap-
pearance of a scientific lecture-theatre. There were
no rifles or pistols in this apartment, but round the
walls of it were hung more dubious and dreadful
shapes, things that looked like the bulbs of iron
plants, or the eggs of iron birds. They were bombs,
and the very room itself seemed like the inside of a
THE SECRET OF GABRIEL SYME 23
bomb. Syme knocked his cigar ash off against the
wall, and went in.
•' And now, my dear Mr. Syme," said Gregory,
throwing himself in an expansive manner on the
bench under the largest bomb, " now we are quite
cosy, so let us talk properly. Now, no human
words can give you any notion of why I brought
you here. It was one of those quite arbitrary emo-
tions, like jumping off a cliff or faUing in love. Suf-
fice it to say that you were an inexpressibly irrita-
ting fellow, and, to do you justice, you are still. I
would break twenty oaths of secrecy for the pleas-
ure of taking you down a peg. That way you have
of lighting a cigar would make a priest break the
seal of confession. Well, you said that you were
quite certain I was not a serious anarchist. Does
this place strike you as being serious ? "
" It does seem to have a moral under all its
gaiety," assented Syme ; " but may I ask you two
questions ? You need not fear to give me informa-
tion, because, as you remember, you very wisely
extorted from me a promise not to tell the police, a
promise I shall certainly keep. So it is in mere
curiosity that I make my queries. First of all, what
is it really all about ? What is it you object to ?
You want to abolish Government ? "
Z4 THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
" To abolish God ! " said Gregory, opening the
eyes of a fanatic. " We do not only want to upset
a few despotisms and police regulations ; that sort
of anarchism does exist, but it is a mere branch of
the Nonconformists. We dig deeper and we blow
you higher. We wish to deny all those arbitrary
distinctions of vice and virtue, honour and treachery,
upon which mere rebels base themselves. The silly
sentimentalists of the French Revolution talked of
the Rights of Man ! We hate Rights as we hate
Wrongs. We have abolished Right and Wrong."
" And Right and Left," said Syme with a simple
fagerness, " I hope you will abolish them too.
They are much more troublesome to me."
" You spoke of a second question," snapped
" With pleasure," resumed Syme. " In all your
present acts and surroundings there is a scientific
attempt at secrecy. I have an aunt who lived over
a shop, but thisi is the first time I have found people
living from preference under a public-house. You
have a heavy iron door. You cannot pass it with-
out submitting to the humiliation of caUing yourself
Mr. Chamberlain. You surround yourself with steel
instruments which make the place, if I may say so,
more impressive than homelike. May I ask why»
THE SECRET OF GABRIEL SYME 25
after taking all this trouble to barricade yourselves
in the bowels of the earth, you then parade your
whole secret by talking about anarchism to every
silly woman in Saffron Park ? "
" The answer is simple," he said. " I told you I
was a serious anarchist, and you did not believe me.
Nor do they believe me. Unless I took them into
this infernal room they would not believe me."
Syme smoked thoughtfully, and looked at him
with interest. Gregory went on.
" The history of the thing might amuse you," he
said. " When first I became one of the New Anarch-
ists I tried all kinds of respectable disguises. I
dressed up as a bishop. I read up all about
bishops in our anarchist pamphlets, in Superstition
the Vampire and Priests of Prey. I certainly under-
stood from them that bishops are strange and terri-
ble old men keeping a cruel secret from mankind.
I was misinformed. When on my first appearing
in episcopal gaiters in a drawing-room I cried out
in a voice of thunder, * Down ! down ! presumptions
human reason ! ' they found out in some way that
I was not a bishop at all. I was nabbed at once.
Then I made up as a millionaire ; but I defended
Capital with so much intelligence that a fool could
26 THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
see that I was quite poor. Then I tried being a
major. Now I am a humanitarian myself, but I
have, I hope, enough intellectual breadth to under-
stand the position of those who, like Nietzsche, ad-
mire violence — the proud, mad war of Nature and
all that, you know. I threw myself into the major.
I drew my sword and waved it constantly. I called
out ' Blood ! ' abstractedly, Hke a man calling for
wine. I often said, * Let the weak perish ; it is the
Law.' Well, well, it seems majors don't do this. I
was nabbed again. At last I went in despair to the
President of the Central Anarchist Council, who is
the greatest man in Europe."
" What is his name ? " asked Syme.
" You would not know it," answered Gregory.
".That is his greatness. Caesar and Napoleon put
all their genius into being heard of, and they were
heard of. He puts all his genius into not being
heard of, and he is not heard of. But you cannot
be for five minutes in the room with him without
feeling that Caesar and Napoleon would have been
children in his hands."
He was silent and even pale for a moment, and
then resumed —
" But whenever he gives advice it is always some-
thing as startling as an epigram, and yet as practical
THE SECRET OF GABRIEL SYME 27
as the Bank of England. I said to him, • What dis-
guise will hide me from the world ? What can I
find more respectable than bishops and majors ? '
He looked at me with his large but indecipherable
face. ' You want a safe disguise, do you ? You
want a dress which will guarantee you harmless ; a
dress in which no one would ever look for a bomb ? '
I nodded. He suddenly lifted his lion's voice.
' Why, then, dress up as an anarchist, you fool ! ' he
roared so that the room shook. ' Nobody will ever
expect you to do anything dangerous then.' And
he turned his broad back on me without another
word. I took his advice, and have never regretted
it. I preached blood and murder to those women
day and night, and — by God! — they would let me
wheel their perambulators."
Syme sat watching him with some respect in his
large, blue eyes.
" You took mc in," he said. " It is really a smart
Then after a pause he added —
" What do you call this tremendous President of
yours ? "
" We generally call him Sunday," replied Gregory
with simplicity. " You sec, there are seven members
of the Central Anarchist Council, and they are named
28 THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
after days of the week. He is called Sunday, by
some of his admirers Bloody Sunday. It is curious
you should mention the matter, because the very
night you have dropped in (if I may so express it)
is the night on which our London branch, which
assembles in this room, has to elect its own deputy
to fill a vacancy in the Council. The gentleman
who has for some time past played, with propriety
and general applause, the difficult part of Thursday,
has died quite suddenly. Consequently, we have
called a meeting this very evening to elect a suc-
He got to his feet and strolled across the room
with a sort of smihng embarrassment.
" I feel somehow as if you were my mother,
Syme," he continued casually. •' I feel that I can
confide anything to you, as you have promised to
tell nobody. In fact, I will confide to you some-
thing that I would not say in so many words to the
anarchists who will be coming to the room in about
ten minutes. We shall, of course, go through a
form of election ; but I don't mind telling you that
it is practically certain what the result will be."
He looked down for a moment modestly. " It is
almost a settled thing that I am to be Thurs-
THE SECRET OF GABRIEL SYME 29
" My dear fellow," said Syme heartily, ** I con-
gratulate you. A great career ! "
Gregory smiled in deprecation, and walked across
the room, talking rapidly.
" As a matter of fact, everything is ready for me
on this table," he said, " and the ceremony will
probably be the shortest possible."
Syme also strolled across to the table, and found
lying across it a walking-stick, which turned out on
examination to be a sword-stick, a large Colt's
revolver, a sandwich case, and a formidable flask of
brandy. Over the chair, beside the table, was
thrown a heavy-looking cape or cloak.
*' I have only to get the form of election finished,"
continued Gregory with animation, " then I snatch
up this cloak and stick, stuff these other things into
my pocket, step out of a door in this cavern, which
opens on the river, where there is a steam-tug
already waiting for me, and then — then — oh, the
wild joy of being Thursday ! " And he clasped his
Syme, who had sat down once more with his usual
insolent languor, got to his feet with an unusual air
" Why is if," he asked vaguely, " that I think you
are quite a decent fellow ? Why do I positively like
30 THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
you, Gregory ? " He paused a moment, and then
added with a sort of fresh curiosity, " Is it because
you are such an ass ? "
There was a thoughtful silence again, and then he
cried out —
" Well, damn it all ! this is the funniest situation
I have ever been in in my life, and I am going to
act accordingly. Gregory, I gave you a promise
before I came into this place. That promise I would
keep under red-hot pincers. Would you give me,
for my own safety, a little promise of the same
" A promise ? " asked Gregory, wondering.
" Yes," said Syme very seriously, " a promise.
I swore before God that I would not tell your secret
to the police. Will you swear by Humanity, or
whatever beastly thing you believe in, that you will
not tell my secret to the anarchists ? "
" Your secret ? " asked the staring Gregory.
" Have you got a secret ? "
" Yes," said Syme, " I have a secret." Then
after a pause, " Will you swear ? "
Gregory glared at him gravely for a few moments,
and then said abruptly —
" You must have bewitched me, but I feel a
furious curiosity about you. Yes, I will swear not
THE SECRET OF GABRIEL SYME 31
to tell the anarchists anything you tell me. But
look sharp, for they will be here in a couple of
Syme rose slowly to his feet and thrust his long,
white hands into his long, grey trousers' pockets.
Almost as he did so there came five knocks on the
outer grating, proclaiming the arrival of the first of
" Well," said Syme slowly, " I don't know how to
tell you the truth more shortly than by saying that
your expedient of dressing up as an aimless poet is
not confined to you or your President. We have
known the dodge for some time at Scotland
Gregory tried to spring up straight, but he swayed
" What do you say ? " he asked in an inhuman
" Yes," said Syme simply, " I am a police detec-
tive. But I think I hear your friends coming."
From the doorway there came a murmur of " Mr.
Joseph Chamberlain." It was repeated twice and
thrice, and then thirty times, and the crowd of
Joseph Chamberlains (a solemn thought) could be
heard trampling down the corridor.
THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
Before one of the fresh faces could appear at
the doorway, Gregory's stunned surprise had fallen
from him. He was beside the table with a bound,
and a noise in his throat like a wild beast. He
caught up the Colt's revolver and took aim at
Syme. Syme did not flinch, but he put up a pale
and polite hand,
" Don't be such a silly man," he said, with the
effeminate dignity of a curate, " Don't you see it's
not necessary ? Don't you see that we're both in
the same boat ? Yes, and jolly seasick."
Gregory could not speak, but he could not fire
either, and he looked his question.
" Don't you see we've checkmated each other ? "
cried Syme, " I can't tell the police you are an
anarchist. You can't tell the anarchists I'm a
policeman. I can only watch you, knowing what
you are ; you can only watch me, knowing what I
am. In short, it's a lonely, intellectual duel, my
head against yours. I'm a policeman deprived of
THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY 33
the help of the police. You, my poor fellow, are
an anarchist deprived of the help of that law and
organisation which is so essential to anarchy. The
one solitary difference is in your favour. You are
not surrounded by inquisitive policemen ; I am
surrounded by inquisitive anarchists. I cannot
betray you, but I might betray myself. Come,
come ! wait and see me betray myself. I shall do
it so nicely."
Gregory put the pistol slowly down, still staring
at Syme as if he were a sea-monster.
" I don't believe in immortality," he said at last,
" but if, after all this, you were to break your word,
God would make a hell only for you, to howl in
" I shall not break my word," said Syme sternly,
•' nor will you break yours. Here are your friends."
The mass of the anarchists entered the room
heavily, with a slouching and somewhat weary gait ;
but one Httle man, with a black beard and glasses —
a man somewhat of the type of Mr. Tim Healy —
detached himself, and bustled forward with some
papers in his hand.
" Comrade Gregory," he said, " I suppose this
man is a delegate ? "
Gregory, taken by surprise, looked down and
34 THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
muttered the name of Syme; but Syme replied
almost pertly —
" I am glad to see that your gate is well enough
guarded to make it hard for any one to be here who
was not a delegate."
The brow of the little man with the black beard
was, however, still contracted with something like
" What branch do you represent ? " he asked
" I should hardly call it a branch," said Syme,
laughing ; " I should call it at the very least a root."
" What do you mean ? "
" The fact is," said Syme serenely, " the truth is
I am a Sabbatarian. I have been specially sent
here to see that you show a due observance of
The little man dropped one of his papers, and a
flicker of fear went over all the faces of the group.
Evidently the awful President, whose name was
Sunday, did sometimes send down such irregular
ambassadors to such branch meetings.
" Well, comrade," said the man with the papers
after a pause, " I suppose we'd better give you a
seat in the meeting ? "
" If you ask my advice as a friend," said
THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY 35
Syme with severe benevolence, " I think you'd
When Gregory heard the dangerous dialogue end,
with a sudden safety for his rival, he rose abruptly
and paced the floor in painful thought. He was,
indeed, in an agony of diplomacy. It was clear
that Syme's inspired impudence was likely to bring
him out of all merely accidental dilemmas. Little
was to be hoped from them. He could not himself
betray Syme, partly from honour, but partly also
because, if he betrayed him and for some reason
failed to destroy him, the Syme who escaped w^ould
be a Syme freed from all obligation of secrecy, a
Syme who would simply walk to the nearest police
station. After all, it was only one night's discus-
sion, and only one detective who would know of it.
He would let out as little as possible of their plans
that night, and then let Syme go, and chance it.
He strode across to the group of anarchists, which
was already distributing itself along the benches.
"I think it is time we began," he said; "the
steam-tug is waiting on the river already. I move
that Comrade Buttons takes the chair."
This being approved by a show of hands, the
little man with the papers slipped into the presiden-
36 THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
" Comrades," he began, as sharp as a pistol-shot,
*' our meeting to-night is important, though it need
not be long. This branch has always had the
honour of electing Thursdays for the Central
European Council. We have elected many and
splendid Thursdays. We all lament the sad de-
cease of the heroic worker who occupied the post
until last week. As you know, his services to the
cause were considerable. He organised the great
dynamite coup of Brighton which, under happier
circumstances, ought to have killed everybody on
the pier. As you also know, his death was as self-
denying as his life, for he died through his faith in
a hygienic mixture of chalk and water as a sub-
stitute for milk, which beverage he regarded as
barbaric, and as involving cruelty to the cow.
Cruelty, or anything approaching to cruelty, re-
volted him always. But it is not to acclaim his
virtues that we are met, but for a harder task. It
is difficult properly to praise his qualities, but it is
more difficult to replace them. Upon you, com-
rades, it devolves this evening to choose out of the
company present the man who shall be Thurs«fey.
If any comrade suggests a name I will put it to the
vote. If no comrade suggests a name, I can only
tell myself that that dear dynamiter, who is gone
THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY 37
from us, has carried into the unknowable abysses
the last secret of his virtue and his innocence."
There was a stir of almost inaudible applause,
such as is sometimes heard in church. Then a large
old man, with a long and venerable white beard,
perhaps the only real working-man present, rose
lumberingly and said —
" I move that Comrade Gregory be elected Thurs-
day," and sat lumberingly down again.
" Does any one second ? " asked the chairman.
A little man with a velvet coat and pointed beard
" Before I put the matter to the vote," said the
chairman, *' I will call on Comrade Gregory to make
Gregory rose amid a great rumble of applause.
His face was deadly pale, so that by contrast his
queer red hair looked almost scarlet. But he was
smiling, and altogether at ease. He had made up
his mind, and he saw his best policy quite plain in
front of him like a white road. His best chance
was to make a softened and ambiguous speech, such
as would leave on the detective's mind the impres-
sion that the anarchist brotherhood was a very mild
affair after all. He believed in his own literary
power, his capacity for suggesting fine shades and
38 THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
picking perfect words. He thought that with care
he could succeed, in spite of all the people around
him, in conveying an impression of the institution,
subtly and dehcately false. Syme had once thought
that anarchists, under all their bravado, were only
playing the fool. Could he not now, in the hour
of peril, make Syme think so again ?
" Comrades," began Gregory, in a low but pene-
trating voice, " it is not necessary for me to tell you
what is my policy, for it is your policy also. Our
belief has been slandered, it has been disfigured, it
has been utterly confused and concealed, but it has
never been altered. Those who talk about anarch-
ism and its dangers go everywhere and anywhere
to get their information, except to us, except to the
fountain head. They learn about anarchists from
sixpenny novels ; they learn about anarchists from
tradesmen's newspapers ; they learn about anarch-
ists from Ally Sloper's Half-Holiday and the
Sporting Times. They never learn about anarchists
from anarchists. We have no chance of denying
the mountainous slanders which are heaped upon
our heads from one end of Europe to another.
The man who has always heard that we are walk-
ing plagues has never heard our reply. I know
that he will not hear it to-night, though my passion
THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY 39
were to rend the roof. For it is deep, deep under
the earth that the persecuted are permitted to as-
semble, as the Christians assembled in the Cata-
combs. But if, by some incredible accident, there
were here to-night a man who all his life had thus
immensely misunderstood us, I would put this ques-
tion to him : ' When those Christians met in those
Catacombs, what sort of moral reputation had they
in the streets above ? What tales were told of their
atrocities by one educated Roman to another?
Suppose ' (I would say to him), ' suppose that we
are only repeating that still mysterious paradox of
history. Suppose we seem as shocking as the
Christians because we are really as harmless as the
Christians. Suppose we seem as mad as the Chris-
tians because we are really as meek.' "
The applause that had greeted the opening sen-
tences had been gradually growing fainter, and at
the last word it stopped suddenly. In the abrupt
silence, the man with the velvet jacket said, in a
high, squeaky voice —
" I'm not meek ! "
" Comrade Witherspoon tells us," resumed Greg-
ory, " that he is not meek. Ah, how little he
knows himself! His words are, indeed, extrava-
gant ; his appearance is ferocious, and even (to an
THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
ordinary taste) unattractive. But only the eye of a
friendship as deep and dehcate as mine can perceive
the deep foundation of soHd meekness which hes
at the base of him, too deep even for himself to
see. I repeat, we are the true early Christians, only
that we come too late. We are simple, as they
were simple — look at Comrade Witherspoon. We
are modest, as they were modest — look at me.
We are merciful "
" No, no ! " called out Mr. Witherspoon with the
" I say we are merciful," repeated Gregory furi-
ously, " as the early Christians were merciful. Yet
this did not prevent their being accused of
eating human flesh. We do not eat human
" Shame ! " cried Witherspoon. " Why not ? "
" Comrade Witherspoon," said Gregory, with a
feverish gaiety, " is anxious to know why nobody
eats him (laughter). In our society, at any rate,
which loves him sincerely, which is founded upon
•' No, no ! " said Witherspoon, " down with love."
" Which is founded upon love," repeated Gregory,
grinding his teeth, " there will be no difficulty about
the aims which we shall pursue as a body, or which
THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY 41
I should pursue were I chosen as the representative
of that body. Superbly careless of the slanders
that represent us as assassins and enemies of human
society, we shall pursue, with moral courage and
quiet, intellectual pressure, the permanent ideals of
brotherhood and simplicity."
Gregory resumed his seat and passed his hand
across his forehead. The silence was sudden and
awkward, but the chairman rose like an automaton,
and said in a colourless voice —
" Does any one oppose the election of Comrade
Gregory ? "
The assembly seemed vague and sub-consciously
disappointed, and Comrade Witherspoon moved
restlessly on his seat and muttered in his thick
beard. By the sheer rush of routine, however, the
motion would have been put and carried. But as
the chairman was opening his mouth to put it,
Syme sprang to his feet and said in a small and
quiet voice —
" Yes, Mr. Chairman, I oppose."
The most effective fact in oratory is an unex-
pected change in the voice. Mr. Gabriel Syme
evidently understood oratory. Having said these
first formal words in a moderated tone and with a
brief simplicity, he made his next word ring and
42 THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
volley in the vault as if one of the guns had gone
" Comrades ! " he cried, in a voice that made
every man jump out of his boots, " have we come
here for this ? Do we live underground like rats
in order to listen to talk like this ? This is talk we
might listen to while eating buns at a Sunday-
school treat. Do we line these walls with weapons
and bar that door with death lest any one should
come and hear Comrade Gregory saying to us, * Be
good, and you will be happy,' * Honesty is the
best policy,' and ' Virtue is its own reward ' ?
There was not a word in Comrade Gregory's ad-
dress to which a curate could not have listened
with pleasure (hear, hear). But I am not a curate
(loud cheers), and I did not listen to it with pleasure
(renewed cheers). The man who is fitted to make
a good curate is not fitted to make a resolute,
forcible, and efficient Thursday (hear, hear).
" Comrade Gregory has told us, in only too
apologetic a tone, that we are not the enemies of
society. But I say that we are the enemies of so-
ciety, and so much the worse for society. We are
the enemies of society, for society is the enemy of
humanity, its oldest and its most pitiless enemy
(hear, hear). Comrade Gregory has told you
THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY 43
(apologetically again) that we are not murderers.
There I agree. We are not murderers, we are
Ever since Syme had risen Gregory had sat
staring at him, his face idiotic with astonishment.
Now in the pause his lips of clay parted, and he
said, with an automatic and lifeless distinctness —
" You damnable hypocrite ! "
Syme looked straight into those frightful eyes
with his own pale blue ones, and said with
dignity — •
" Comrade Gregory accuses me of hypocrisy. He
knows as well as I do that I am keeping all my
engagements and doing nothing but my duty. I
do not mince words. I do not pretend to. I say
that Comrade Gregory is unfit to be Thursday for
all his amiable quahties. He is unfit to be Thurs-
day because of his amiable qualities. We do not
want the Supreme Council of Anarchy infected
with a maudlin mercy (hear, hear). This is no
time for ceremonial politeness, neither is it a time
for ceremonial modesty. 1 set myself against Com-
rade Gregory as I would set myself against all the
Governments of Europe, because the anarchist who
has given himself to anarchy has forgotten modesty
as much as he has forgotten pride (cheers). I ann
44 THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
not a man at all ; I am a cause (renewed cheers).
I set myself against Comrade Gregory as imperson-
ally and as calmly as I should choose one pistol
rather than another out of that rack upon the wall ;
and I say that rather than have Gregory and his
milk-and-water methods on the Supreme Council,
I would offer myself for election "
His sentence was drowned in a deafening cataract
of applause. The faces, that had grown fiercer and
fiercer with approval as his tirade grew more and
more uncompromising, were now distorted with
grins of anticipation or cloven with delighted cries.
At the moment when he announced himself as ready
to stand for the post of Thursday, a roar of excite-
ment and assent broke forth, and became uncon-
trollable, and at the same moment Gregory sprang
to his feet, with foam upon his mouth, and shouted
against the shouting.
" Stop, you blasted madmen ! " he cried, at the
top of a voice that tore his throat. " Stop, you "
But louder than Gregory's shouting and louder
than the roar of the room came the voice of Syme,
still speaking in a peal of pitiless thunder —
" I do not go to the Council to rebut that slander
that calls us murderers ; I go to earn it (loud and
prolonged cheering). To the priest who says these
THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY 45
men are the enemies of religion, to the judge who
says these men are the enemies of law, to the fat
parliamentarian who says these men are the ene-
mies of order and public decency, to all these I will
reply, ' You are false kings, but you are true
prophets. I am come to destroy you, and to fulfill
your prophecies.' "
The heavy clamour gradually died away, but
before it had ceased Witherspoon had jumped to
his feet, his hair and beard all on end, and had
" I move, as an amendment, that Comrade Syme
be appointed to the post."
" Stop all this, I tell you ! " cried Gregory, with
frantic face and hands. " Stop it, it is all "
The voice of the chairman clove his speech with
a cold accent.
" Does any one second this amendment? " he said.
A tall, tired man, with melancholy eyes and an
American chin beard, was observed on the back
bench to be slowly rising to his feet. Gregory had
been screaming for some time past; now there was
a change in his accent, more shocking than any
" I end all this ! " he said, in a voice as heavy as
stone. " This man cannot be elected. He is a "
46 THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
" Yes," said Syme, quite motionless, " what is
Gregory's mouth worked twice without sound ;
then slowly the blood began to crawl back into his
" He is a man quite inexperienced in our work,"
he said, and sat down abruptly.
Before he had done so, the long, lean man with
the American beard was again upon his feet, and
was repeating in a high American monotone —
" I beg to second the election of Comrade Syme."
" The amendment will, as usual, be put first," said
Mr. Buttons, the chairman, with mechanical rapidity.
" The question is that Comrade Syme "
Gregory had again sprung to his feet, panting
" Comrades," he cried out, " I am not a madman."
" Oh, oh ! " said Mr. Witherspoon.
" I am not a madman," reiterated Gregory, with
a frightful sincerity which for a moment staggered
the room, " but I give you a counsel which you can
call mad if you like. No, I will not call it a counsel,
for I can give you no reason for it. I will call it a
command. Call it a mad command, but act upon
it. Strike, but hear me ! Kill me, but obey me !
Do not elect this man."
THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY 47
Truth is so terrible, even in fetters, that for a mo-
ment Syme's slender and insane victory swayed like
a reed. But you could not have guessed it from
Syme's bleak blue eyes. He merely began —
" Comrade Gregory commands "
Then the spell was snapped, and one anarchist
called out to Gregory —
" Who are you ? You are not Sunday ; " and
another anarchist added in a heavier voice, " And
you are not Thursday."
" Comrades," cried Gregory, in a voice like that
of a martyr v^rho in an ecstasy of pain has passed
beyond pain, " it is nothing to me whether you
detest me as a tyrant or detest me as a slave. If
you will not take my command, accept my
degradation. I kneel to you. I throw myself at
your feet. I implore you. Do not elect this man."
" Comrade Gregory," said the chairman after a
painful pause, " this is really not quite dignified."
For the first time in the proceedings there was
for a few seconds a real silence. Then Gregory fell
back in his scat, a pale wreck of a man, and the
chairman repeated, like a piece of clockwork sud-
denly started again —
" The question is that Comrade Syme be elected
to the post of Thursday on the General Council."
48 THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
The roar rose like the sea, the hands rose like a
forest, and three minutes afterwards Mr. Gabriel
Syme, of the Secret Police Service, was elected to
the post of Thursday on the General Council of the
Anarchists of Europe.
Every one in the room seemed to feel the tug
waiting on the river, the sword-stick and the re-
volver, waiting on the table. The instant the elec-
tion was ended and irrevocable, and Syme had re-
ceived the paper proving his election, they all sprang
to their feet, and the fiery groups moved and mixed
in the room. Syme found himself, somehow or
other, face to face with Gregory, who still regarded
him with a stare of stunned hatred. They were
silent for many minutes.
" You are a devil ! " said Gregory at last.
** And you are a gentleman," said Syme with
" It was you that entrapped me," began
Gregory, shaking from head to foot," entrapped
me into "
" Talk sense," said Syme shortly. " Into what
sort of devils' parliament have you entrapped me,
if it comes to that ? You made me swear before I
made you. Perhaps we are both doing what we
think right. But what we think right is so damned
THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY 49
different that there can be nothing between us in
the way of concession. There is nothing possible
between us but honour and death," and he pulled
the great cloak about his shoulders and picked up
the flask from the table.
" The boat is quite ready," said Mn Buttons,
bustling up. " Be good enough to step this
With a gesture that revealed the shopwalker, he
led Syme down a short, iron-bound passage, the
still agonised Gregory following feverishly at their
heels. At the end of the passage was a door, which
Buttons opened sharply, showing a sudden blue and
silver picture of the moonlit river, that looked like
a scene in a theatre. Close to the opening lay a
dark, dwarfish steam-launch, like a baby dragon with
one red eye.
Almost in the act of stepping on board, Gabriel
Syme turned to the gaping Gregory.
" You have kept your word," he said gently, with
his face in shadow. " You are a man of honour,
and I thank you. You have kept it even down to
a small particular. There was one special thing you
promised me at the beginning of the affair, and
which you have certainly given me by the end
50 THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
" What do you mean ? " cried the chaotic Greg-
ory. " What did I promise you ? "
" A very entertaining evening," said Syme, and
he made a military salute with the sword-stick as
the steamboat slid away.
THE TALE OF A DETECTIVE
Gabriel Syme was not merely a detective who
pretended to be a poet ; he was really a poet who
had become a detective. Nor was his hatred of
anarchy hypocritical. He was one of those who
are driven early in life into too conservative an atti-
tude by the bewildering folly of most revolutionists.
He had not attained it by any tame tradition. His
respectability was spontaneous and sudden, a re-
bellion against rebellion. He came of a family of
cranks, in which all the oldest people had all the
newest notions. One of his uncles always walked
about without a hat, and another had made an un-
successful attempt to walk about with a hat and
nothing else. His father cultivated art and self-
realisation ; his mother went in for simplicity and
hygiene. Hence the child, during his tenderer
years, was wholly unacquainted with any drink be-
tween the extremes of absinth and cocoa, of both
of which he had a healthy dislike. The more his
mother preached a more than Puritan abstinence
52 THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
the more did his father expand into a more than
pagan latitude; and by the time the former had
come to enforcing vegetarianism, the latter had
pretty well reached the point of defending canni-
Being surrounded with every conceivable kind of
revolt from infancy, Gabriel had to revolt into some-
thing, so he revolted into the only thing left —
sanity. But there was just enough in him of the
blood of these fanatics to make even his protest for
common-sense a little too fierce to be sensible. His
hatred of modern lawlessness had been crowned also
by an accident. It happened that he was walking
in a side street at the instant of a dynamite outrage.
He had been blind and deaf for a moment, and then
seen, the smoke clearing, the broken windows and
the bleeding faces. After that he went about as
usual — quiet, courteous, rather gentle ; but there was
a spot on his mind that was not sane. He did not
regard anarchists, as most of us do, as a handful of
morbid men, combining ignorance with intellectual-
ism. He regarded them as a huge and pitiless peril,
like a Chinese invasion.
He poured perpetually into newspapers and their
waste-paper baskets a torrent of tales, verses and
violent articles, warning men of this deluge of bar-
THE TALE OF A DETECTIVE 53
baric denial. But he seemed to be getting no nearer
his enemy, and, what was worse, no nearer a hving.
As he paced the Thames embankment, bitterly bit-
ing a cheap cigar and brooding on the advance of
Anarchy, there was no anarchist with a bomb in his
pocket so savage or so sohtary as he. Indeed, he
always felt that Government stood alone and
desperate, with its back to the wall. He was too
quixotic to have cared for it otherwise.
He walked on the Embankment once under a
dark red sunset. The red river reflected the red
sky, and they both reflected his anger. The sky,
indeed, was so swarthy, and the light on the river
relatively so lurid, that the water almost seemed of
fiercer flame than the sunset it mirrored. It looked
like a stream of literal fire winding under the vast
caverns of a subterranean country.
Syme was shabby in those days. He wore an old-
fashioned black chimney-pot hat ; he was wrapped
in a yet more old-fashioned cloak, black and ragged ;
and the combination gave him the look of the early
villains in Dickens and Bulwer Lytton. Also his
yellow beard and hair were more unkempt and
leonine than when they appeared long afterwards,
cut and pointed, on the lawns of Saffron Park. A
long, lean, black cigar, bought in Soho for two-
54 THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
pence, stood out from between his tightened teeth,
and altogether he looked a very satisfactory specimen
of the anarchists upon whom he had vowed a holy
war. Perhaps this was why a policeman on the
Embankment spoke to him, and said " Good
Syme, at a crisis of his morbid fears for hu-
manity, seemed stung by the mere stohdity of the
automatic official, a mere bulk of blue in the
" A good evening is it ? " he said sharply. " You
fellows would call the end of the world a good
evening. Look at that bloody red sun and that
bloody river ! I tell you that if that were literally
human blood, spilt and shining, you would still be
standing here as solid as ever, looking out for some
poor harmless tramp whom you could move on.
You policemen are cruel to the poor, but I could
forgive you even your cruelty if it were not for your
" If we are calm," replied the policeman, " it is
the calm of organised resistance."
" Eh ? " said Syme, staring.
" The soldier must be calm in the thick of the
battle," pursued the policeman. " The composure
of an army is the anger of a nation."
THE TALE OF A DETECTIVE 55
" Gopd God, the Board Schools ! " said Syme.
" Is this undenominational education ? "
" No," said the policeman sadly, " I never had any
of those advantages. The Board Schools came
after my time. What education I had was very
rough and old-fashioned, I am afraid."
" Where did you have it ? " asked Syme, won-
" Oh, at Harrow," said the policeman.
The class sympathies which, false as they are,
are the truest things in so many men, broke out of
Syme before he could control them.
" But, good Lord, man," he said, " you oughtn't
to be a policeman ! "
The policeman sighed and shook his head.
** I know," he said solemnly, " I know I am not
" But why did you join the police ? " asked Syme
with rude curiosity.
" For much the same reason that you abused the
police," replied the other. " I found that there was
a special opening in the service for those whose fears
for humanity were concerned rather with the aber-
rations of the scientific intellect than with the
normal and excusable, though excessive, outbreaks
of the human will. I trust I make myself clear."
56 THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
" If you mean that you make your opinion clear,"
said Syme, " I suppose you do. But as for making
yourself clear, it is the last thing you do. How
comes a man like you to be talking philosophy in a
blue helmet on the Thames embankment ? "
" You have evidently not heard of the latest de-
velopment in our police system," replied the other.
" I am not surprised at it. We are keeping it
rather dark from the educated class, because that
class contains most of our enemies. But you seem
to be exactly in the right frame of mind. I think
you might almost join us."
" Join you in vi^hat?" asked Syme.
" I will tell you," said the policeman slowly.
" This is the situation : The head of one of our
departments, one of the most celebrated detectives
in Europe, has long been of opinion that a purely
intellectual conspiracy would soon threaten the
very existence of civilisation. He is certain that
the scientific and artistic worlds are silently bound
in a crusade against the Family and the State. He
has, therefore, formed a special corps of policemen,
policemen who are also philosophers. It is their
business to watch the beginnings of this conspiracy,
not merely in a criminal but in a controversial
sense. I am a democrat myself, and I am fully
THE TALE OF A DETECTIVE 57
aware of the value of the ordinary man in matters
of ordinary valour or virtue. But it would obvi-
ously be undesirable to employ the common police-
man in an investigation which is also a heresy
Syme's eyes were bright with a sympathetic
" What do you do, then ? " he said.
" The work of the philosophical policeman,"
replied the man in blue, " is at once bolder and
more subtle than that of the ordinary detective.
The ordinary detective goes to pot-houses to arrest
thieves ; we go to artistic tea-parties to detect
pessimists. The ordinary detective discovers from
a ledger or a diary that a crime has been com-
mitted. We discover from a book of sonnets that
a crime will be committed. We have to trace the
origin of those dreadful thoughts that drive men
on at last to intellectual fanaticism and intellectual
crime. We were only just in time to prevent the
assassination at Hartlepool, and that was entirely
due to the fact that our Mr. Wilks (a smart young
fellow) thoroughly understood a triolet."
" Do you mean," asked Syme, '• that there is
really as much connection between crime and the
modern intellect as all that ? "
58 THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
" You are not sufficiently democratic," answered
the policeman, " but you were right when you said
just now that our ordinary treatment of the poor
criminal was a pretty brutal business. I tell you
I am sometimes sick of my trade when I see how
perpetually it means merely a war upon the ignorant
and the desperate. But this new movement of
ours is a very different affair. We deny the snob-
bish English assumption that the uneducated are
the dangerous criminals. We remember the Ro-
man Emperors. We remember the great poison-
ing princes of the Renaissance. We say that the
dangerous criminal is the educated criminal. We
say that the most dangerous criminal now is the
entirely lawless modern philosopher. Compared to
him, burglars and bigamists are essentially moral
men ; my heart goes out to them. They accept the
essential ideal of man ; they merely seek it wrongly.
Thieves respect property. They merely wish the
property to become their property that they may
more perfectly respect it. But philosophers dislike
property as property; they wish to destroy the
very idea of personal possession. Bigamists re-
spect marriage, or they would not go through the
highly ceremonial and even ritualistic formality of
bigamy. But philosophers despise marriage as
THE TALE OF A DETECTIVE 59
marriage. Murderers respect human life ; they
merely wish to attain a greater fulness of human
life in themselves by the sacrifice of what seems to
them to be lesser lives. But philosophers hate life
itself, their own as much as other people's."
Syme struck his hands together.
•' How true that is," he cried. " I have felt it
from my boyhood, but never could state the verbal
antithesis. The common criminal is a bad man,
but at least he is, as it were, a conditional good
man. He says that if only a certain obstacle be
removed — say a wealthy uncle — he is then pre-
pared to accept the universe and to praise God.
He is a reformer, but not an anarchist. He wishes
to cleanse the edifice, but not to destroy it. But
the evil philosopher is not trying to alter things,
but to annihilate them. Yes, the modern world has
retained all those parts of police work which are
really oppressive and ignominious, the harrying of
the poor, the spying upon the unfortunate. It has
given up its more dignified work, the punishment
of powerful traitors in the State and powerful
heresiarchs in the Church. The moderns say we
must not punish heretics. My only doubt is
whether we have a right to punish anybody else."
" But this is absurd ! " cried the policeman, clasp-
6o THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
ing his hands with an excitement uncommon in
persons of his figure and costume, " but it is in-
tolerable ! I don't know what you're doing, but
you're wasting your life. You must, you shall, join
our special army against anarchy. Their armies
are on our frontiers. Their bolt is ready to fall.
A moment more, and you may lose the glory of
working with us, perhaps the glory of dying with
the last heroes of the world."
" It is a chance not to be missed, certainly," as-
sented Syme, " but still I do not quite understand.
I know as well as anybody that the modern world
is full of lawless little men and mad little move-
ments. But, beastly as they are, they generally
have the one merit of disagreeing with each other.
How can you talk of their leading one army or
hurling one bolt. What is this anarchy ? "
" Do not confuse it," replied the constable, " with
those chance dynamite outbreaks from Russia or
from Ireland, which are really the outbreaks of
oppressed, if mistaken, men. This is a vast philo-
sophic movement, consisting of an outer and an
inner ring. You might even call the outer ring the
laity and the inner ring the priesthood. I prefer to
call the outer ring the innocent section, the inner
ring the supremely guilty section. The outer ring
THE TALE OF A DETECTIVE 61
— the main mass of their supporters — are merely
anarchists; that is, men who beheve that rules and
formulas have destroyed human happiness. They
believe that all the evil results of human crime are
the results of the system that has called it crime.
They do not believe that the crime creates the pun-
ishment. They believe that the punishment has
created the crime. They believe that if a man
seduced seven women he would naturally walk away
as blameless as the flowers of spring. They believe
that if a man picked a pocket he would naturally
feel exquisitely good. These I call the innocent
" Oh ! " said Syme.
" Naturally, therefore, these people talk about
* a happy time coming ' ; • the paradise of the
future ' ; ' mankind freed from the bondage of vice
and the bondage of virtue,' and so on. And so also
the men of the inner circle speak — the sacred priest-
hood. They also speak to applauding crowds of
the happiness of the future, and of mankind freed
at last. But in their mouths " — and the policeman
lowered his voice — " in their mouths these happy
phrases have a horrible meaning. They are under
no illusions ; they are too intellectual to think that
man upon this earth can ever be quite free of
62 THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
original sin and the struggle. And they mean
death. When they say that mankind shall be free
at last, they mean that mankind shall commit sui-
cide. When they talk of a paradise without right
or wrong, they mean the grave. They have but
two objects, to destroy first humanity and then
themselves. That is why they throw bombs in-
stead of firing pistols. The innocent rank and file
are disappointed because the bomb has not killed
the king; but the high-priesthood are happy because
it has killed somebody."
" How can I join you? " asked Syme, with a sort
" I know for a fact that there is a vacancy at the
moment," said the policeman, " as I have the honour
to be somewhat in the confidence of the chief of
whom I have spoken. You should really come and
see him. Or rather, I should not say see him,
nobody ever sees him ; but you can talk to him if
" Telephone ? " inquired Syme, with interest.
" No," said the policeman placidly, " he has a
fancy for always sitting in a pitch-dark room. He
says it makes his thoughts brighter. Do come
Somewhat dazed and considerably excited, Syme
THE TALE OF A DETECTIVE 63
allowed himself to be led to a side-door in the long
row of buildings of Scotland Yard. Almost before
he knew what he was doing, he had been passed
through the hands of about four intermediate
officials, and was suddenly shown into a room, the
abrupt blackness of which startled him like a blaze
of light. It was not the ordinary darkness, in which
forms can be faintly traced ; it was like going sud-
" Are you the new recruit ? " asked a heavy voice.
And in some strange way, though there was not
the shadow of a shape in the gloom, Syme knew
two things : first, that it came from a man of
massive stature ; and second, that the man had his
back to him.
" Are you the new recruit ? " said the invisible
chief, who seemed to have heard all about it. " All
right. You are engaged."
Syme, quite swept off his feet, made a feeble fight
against this irrevocable phrase.
" I really have no experience," he began.
" No one has any experience," said the other,
"of the Battle of Armageddon."
" But I am really unfit "
" You are willing, that is enough," said the un-
64 THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
" Well, really," said Syme, " I don't know any
profession of which mere willingness is the final
" I do," said the other — " martyrs. I am con-
demning you to death. Good-day."
Thus it was that when Gabriel Syme came out
again into the crimson light of evening, in his shabby
black hat and shabby, lawless cloak, he came out a
member of the New Detective Corps for the frustra-
tion of the great conspiracy. Acting under the ad-
vice of his friend the policeman (who was profes-
sionally incHned to neatness), he trimmed his hair
and beard, bought a good hat, clad himself in an
exquisite summer suit of light blue-grey, with a pale
yellow flower in the buttonhole, and, in short, be-
came that elegant and rather insupportable person
whom Gregory had first encountered in the little
garden of Saffron Park. Before he finally left the
police premises his friend provided him with a small
blue card, on which was written, " The Last Crusade,"
and a number, the sign of his official authority. He
put this carefully in his upper waistcoat pocket, lit a
cigarette, and went forth to track and fight the enemy
in all the drawing-rooms of London. Where his
adventure ultimately led him we have already seen.
At about half-past one on a February night he
THE TALE OF A DETECTIVE 65
found himself steaming in a small tug up the silent
Thames, armed with sword-stick and revolver, the
duly elected Thursday of the Central Council of
When Syme stepped out on to the steam-tug he
had a singular sensation of stepping out into some-
thing entirely new ; not merely into the landscape
of a new land, but even into the landscape of a new
planet. This was mainly due to the insane yet solid
decision of that evening, though partly also to an
entire change in the weather and the sky since he
entered the little tavern some two hours before.
Every trace of the passionate plumage of the cloudy
sunset had been swept away, and a naked moon
stood in a naked sky. The moon was so strong and
full, that (by a paradox often to be noticed) it seemed
like a weaker sun. It gave, not the sense of bright
moonshine, but rather of a dead daylight.
Over the whole landscape lay a luminous and un-
natural discoloration, as of that disastrous twilight
which Milton spoke of as shed by the sun in eclipse ;
so that Syme fell easily into his first thought, that
he was actually on some other and emptier planet,
which circled round some sadder star. But the more
he felt this glittering desolation in the moonlit land,
the more his own chivalric folly glowed in the night
66 THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
like a great fire. Even the common things he car-
ried with him — the food and the brandy and the
loaded pistol — took on exactly that concrete and
material poetry which a child feels when he takes a
gun upon a journey or a bun with him to bed. The
sword-stick and the brandy-flask, though in them-
selves only the tools of morbid conspirators, became
the expressions of his own more healthy romance.
The sword-stick became almost the sword of chiv-
alry, and the brandy the wine of the stirrup-cup.
For even the most dehumanised modern fantasies
depend on some older and simpler figure ; the ad-
ventures may be mad, but the adventurer must be
sane. The dragon without St. George would not
even be grotesque. So this inhuman landscape was
only imaginative by the presence of a man really
human. To Syme's exaggerative mind the bright,
bleak houses and terraces by the Thames looked as
empty as the mountains of the moon. But even
the moon is only poetical because there is a man in
The tug was worked by two men, and with much
toil went comparatively slowly. The clear moon that
had lit up Chiswick had gone down by the time that
they passed Battersea, and when they came under
the enormous bulk of Westminster day had already
THE TALE OF A DETECTIVE 67
begun to break. It broke like the splitting of great
bars of lead, showing bars of silver ; and these had
brightened like white fire when the tug, changing
its onward course, turned inward to a large landing
stage rather beyond Charing Cross.
The great stones of the Embankment seemed
equally dark and gigantic as Syme looked up at
them. They were big and black against the huge
white dawn. They made him feel that he was land-
ing on the colossal steps of some Egyptian palace ;
and indeed the thing suited his mood, for he was,
in his own mind, mounting to attack the solid
thrones of horrible and heathen kings. He leapt
out of the boat on to one slimy step, and stood, a
dark and slender figure, amid the enormous masonry.
The two men in the tug put her off again and turned
up stream. They had never spoken a word.
THE FEAST OF FEAR
At first the large stone stair seemed to Syme as
deserted as a pyramid ; but before he reached the
top he had rea'lised that there was a man leaning
over the parapet of the Embankment and looking
out across the river. As a figure he was quite con-
ventional, clad in a silk hat and frock-coat of the
more formal type of fashion ; he had a red flower in
hi? buttonhole. As Syme drew nearer to him step
by step, he did not even move a hair ; and Syme
could come close enough to notice even in the dim,
pale morning light that his face was long, pale and
intellectual, and ended in a small triangular tuft of
dark beard at the very point of the chin, all else
being clean-shaven. This scrap of hair almost
seemed a mere oversight ; the rest of the face was
of the type that is best shaven — clear-cut, ascetic,
and in its way noble. Syme drew closer and closer,
noting all this, and still the figure did not stir.
At first an instinct had told Syme that this was
the man whom he was meant to meet. Then, see-
THE FEAST OF FEAR 69
ing that the man made no sign, he had concluded
that he was not. And now again he had come
back to a certainty that the man had something to
do with his mad adventure. For the man remained
more still than would have been natural if a stranger
had come so close. He was as motionless as a wax-
work, and got on the nerves somewhat in the same
way. Syme looked again and again at the pale,
dignified and delicate face, and the face still looked
blankly across the river. Then he took out of his
pocket the note from Buttons proving his election,
and put it before that sad and beautiful face. Then
the man smiled ; and his smile was a shock, for it
was all on one side, going up in the right cheek and
down in the left.
There was nothing, rationally speaking, to scare
any one about this. Many people have this nervous
trick of a crooked smile, and in many it is even at-
tractive. But in all Syme's circumstances, with the
dark dawn and the deadly errand and the loneliness
on the great dripping stones, there was something
unnerving in it. There was the silent river and the
silent man, a man of even classic face. And there
was the last nightmare touch that his smile suddenly
The spasm of smile was instantaneous, and the
70 THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
man's face dropped at once into its harmonious
melancholy. He spoke without further explanation
or inquiry, like a man speaking to an old colleague.
" If we walk up towards Leicester Square," he
said, " we shall just be in time for breakfast. Sun-
day always insists on an early breakfast. Have you
had any sleep ? "
" No," said Syme.
" Nor have I," answered the man in an ordinary
tone. " I shall try to get to bed after breakfast."
He spoke with casual civility, but in an utterly
dead voice that contradicted the fanaticism of his
face. It seemed almost as if all friendly words
were to him lifeless conveniences, and that his only
life was hate. After a pause the man spoke again.
" Of course, the Secretary of the branch told you
everything that can be told. But the one thing
that can never be told is the last notion of the
President, for his notions grow like a tropical forest.
So in case you don't know, I'd better tell you that
he is carrying out his notion of concealing ourselves
by not concealing ourselves to the most extraor-
dinary lengths just now. Originally, of course, we
met in a cell underground, just as your branch does.
Then Sunday made us take a private room at an
ordinary restaurant. He said that if you didn't
THE FEAST OF FEAR 71
seem to be hiding nobody hunted you out. Well,
he is the only man on earth, I know ; but some-
times I really think that his huge brain is going a
httle mad in its old age. For now we flaunt our-
selves before the public. We have our breakfast
on a balcony — on a balcony, if you please — over-
looking Leicester Square."
" And what do the people say ? " asked Syme.
" It's quite simple what they say," answered his
guide. " They say we are a lot of jolly gentlemen
who pretend they are anarchists."
" It seems to me a very clever idea," said Syme.
" Clever ! God blast your impudence ! Clever ! "
cried out the other in a sudden, shrill voice which
was as startling and discordant as his crooked smile.
" When you've seen Sunday for a split second you'll
leave off calling him clever."
With this they emerged out of a narrow street,
and saw the early sunlight filling Leicester Square.
It will never be known, I suppose, why this square
itself should look so alien and in some ways so con-
tinental. It will never be known whether it was the
foreign look that attracted the foreigners or the
foreigners who gave it the foreign look. But on
this particular morning the effect seemed singularly
bright and clear. Between the open square and the
72 THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
sunlit leaves and the statue and the Saracenic out-
lines of the Alhambra, it looked the replica of some
French or even Spanish public place. And this effect
increased in Syme the sensation, which in many
shapes he had had through the whole adventure, the
eerie sensation of having strayed into a new world.
As a fact, he had bought bad cigars round Leicester
Square ever since he was a boy. But as he turned
that corner, and saw the trees and the Moorish
cupolas, he could have sworn that he was turning
into an unknown Place de something or other in
some foreign town.
At one corner of the square there projected a
kind of angle of a prosperous but quiet hotel, the
bulk of which belonged to a street behind. In the
wall there was one large French window, probably
the window of a large coffee-room ; and outside this
window, almost literally overhanging the square,
was a formidably buttressed balcony, big enough to
contain a dining-table. In fact, it did contain a
dining-table, or more strictly a breakfast-table ; and
round the breakfast-table, glowing in the sunlight
and evident to the street, were a group of noisy and
talkative men, all dressed in the insolence of fashion,
with white waistcoats and expensive buttonholes.
Some of their jokes could almost be heard across
THE FEAST OF FEAR 73
the square. Then the grave Secretary gave his un-
natural smile, and Syme knew that this boisterous
breakfast party was the secret conclave of the
Then, as Syme continued to stare at them, he
saw something that he had not seen before. He
had not seen it literally because it was too large to
see. At the nearest end of the balcony, blocking
up a great part of the perspective, was the back of
a great mountain of a man. When Syme had seen
him, his first thought was that the weight of him
must break down the balcony of stone. His vast-
ness did not lie only in the fact that he was ab-
normally tall and quite incredibly fat. This man
was planned enormously in his original proportions,
hke a statue carved deliberately as colossal. His
head, crowned with white hair, as seen from behind
looked bigger than a head ought to be. The cars
that stood out from it looked larger than human
ears. He was enlarged terribly to scale ; and this
sense of size was so staggering, that when Syme
saw him all the other figures seemed quite suddenly
to dwindle and become dwarfish. They were still
sitting there as before with their flowers and frock-
coats, but now it looked as if the big man was en-
tertaining five children to tea.
74 THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
As Syme and the guide approached the side door
of the hotel, a waiter came out smihng with every
tooth in his head.
" The gentlemen are up there, sare," he said.
" They do talk and they do laugh at what they talk.
They do say they will throw bombs at ze king."
And the waiter hurried away with a napkin over
his arm,- much pleased with the singular frivolity of
the gentlemen up-stairs.
The two men mounted the stairs in silence.
Syme had never thought of asking whether the
monstrous man who almost filled and broke the bal-
cony was the great President of whom the others
stood in awe. He knew it was so, with an unac-
countable but instantaneous certainty. Syme, in-
deed, was one of those men who are open to all the
more nameless psychological influences in a degree
a little dangerous to mental health. Utterly devoid
of fear in physical dangers, he was a great deal too
sensitive to the smell of spiritual evil. Twice al-
ready that night little unmeaning things had peeped
out at him almost pruriently, and given him a sense
of drawing nearer and nearer to the headquarters
of hell. And this sense became overpowering as
he drew nearer to the great President.
The form it took was a childish and yet hateful
THE FEAST OF FEAR 75
fancy. As he walked across the inner room towards
the balcony, the large face of Sunday grew larger
and larger ; and Syme was gripped with a fear that
when he was quite close the face would be too big
to be possible, and that he would scream aloud.
He remembered that as a child he would not look
at the mask of Memnon in the British Museum,
because it was a face, and so large.
By an effort braver than that of leaping over a
cliff, he went to an empty seat at the breakfast-table
and sat down. The men greeted him with good-
humoured raillery as if they had always known him.
He sobered himself a little by looking at their con-
ventional coats and solid, shining coffee-pot ; then
he looked again at Sunday. His face was very
large, but it was still possible to humanity.
In the presence of the President the whole com-
pany looked sufficiently commonplace ; nothing
about them caught the eye at first, except that by
the President's caprice they had been dressed up
with a festive respectability, which gave the meal
the look of a wedding breakfast. One man indeed
stood out at even a superficial glance. He at least
was the common or garden Dynamiter. He wore,
indeed, the high white collar and satin tie that were
the uniform of the occasion ; but out of this collar
76 THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
there sprang a head quite unmanageable and quite
unmistakable, a bewildering bush of brown hair and
beard that almost obscured the eyes like those of a
Skye terrier. But the eyes did look out of the
tangle, and they were the sad eyes of some Russian
serf. The effect of this figure was not terrible like
that of the President, but it had every diablerie that
can come from the utterly grotesque. If out of that
stiff tie and collar there had come abruptly the head
of a cat or a dog, it could not have been a more
The man's name, it seemed, was Gogol ; he was a
Pole, and in this circle of days he was called Tues-
day. His soul and speech were incurably tragic ;
he could not force himself to play the prosperous
and frivolous part demanded of him by President
Sunday. And, indeed, when Syme came in the
President, with that daring disregard of public
suspicion which was his policy, was actually chaff-
ing Gogol upon his inabihty to assume conventional
" Our friend Tuesday," said the President in a
deep voice at once of quietude and volume, " our
friend Tuesday doesn't seem to grasp the idea. He
dresses up like a gentleman, but he seems to be too
great a soul to behave like one. He insists on the
THE FEAST OF FEAR 77
ways of the stage conspirator. Now if a gentleman
goes about London in a top hat and a frock-coat,
no one need know that he is an anarchist. But if a
gentleman puts on a top hat and a frock-coat, and
then goes about on his hands and knees — well, he
may attract attention. That's what Brother Gogol
does. He goes about on his hands and knees with
such inexhaustible diplomacy, that by this time he
finds it quite difficult to walk upright."
" I am not good at goncealmcnt," said Gogol
sulkily, with a thick foreign accent ; " I am not
ashamed of the cause."
" Yes you are, my boy, and so is the cause of
you," said the President good-naturedly. " You
hide as much as anybody ; but you can't do it, you
see, you're such an ass 1 You try to combine two
inconsistent methods. When a householder finds a
man under his bed, he will probably pause to note
the circumstance. But if he finds a man under his
bed in a top hat, you will agree with me, ni}- dear
Tuesday, that he is not likely even to forget it.
Now when you were found under Admiral Biffin's
" I am not good at deception," said Tuesday
" Right, my boy, right," said the President with
78 THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
a ponderous heartiness, " you aren't good at any-
While this stream of conversation continued,
Syme was looking more steadily at the men around
him. As he did so, he gradually felt all his sense
of something spiritually queer return.
He had thought at first that they were all of
common stature and costume, with the evident
exception of the hairy Gogol. But as he looked at
the others, he began to see in each of them exactly
what he had seen in the man by the river, a de-
moniac detail somewhere. That lopsided laugh,
which would suddenly disfigure the fine face of his
original guide, was typical of all these types. Each
man had something about him, perceived perhaps
at the tenth or twentieth glance, which was not
normal, and which seemed hardly human. The
only metaphor he could think of was this, that they
all looked as men of fashion and presence would
look, with the additional twist given in a false and
Only the individual examples will express this
half- concealed eccentricity. Syme's original cice-
rone bore the title of Monday ; he was the Secretary
of the Council, and his twisted smile was regarded
with more terror than anything, except the Presi-
THE FEAST OF FEAR 79
dent's horrible, happy laughter, liut now that Syme
had more space and light to observe him, there
were other touches. His fine face was so emaciated,
that Syme thought it must be wasted with some
disease ; yet somehow the very distress of his dark
eyes denied this. It was no physical ill that
troubled him. His eyes were alive with intellectual
torture, as if pure thought was pain.
He was typical of each of the tribe; each man was
subtly and differently wrong. Next to him sat
Tuesday, the towzle-headed Gogol, a' man more
obviously mad. Next was Wednesday, a certain
Marquis de St. Eustache, a sufficiently characteristic
figure. The first few glances found nothing unusual
about him, except that he was the only man at table
who wore the fashionable clothes as if they were
really his own. He had a black French beard cut
square and a black English frock-coat cut even
squarer. But Syme, sensitive to such things, felt
somehow that the man carried a rich atmosphere
with him, a rich atmosphere that suffocated. It
reminded one irrationally of drowsy odours and of
dying lamps in the darker poems of Byron and Poe.
With this went a sense of his being clad, not in
lighter colours, but in softer materials; his black
seemed richer and warmer than the black shades
8o THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
about him, as if it were compounded of profound
colour. His black coat looked as if it were only
black by being too dense a purple. His black
beard looked as if it were only black by being too
deep a blue. And in the gloom and thickness of
the beard his dark red mouth showed sensual and
scornful. Whatever he was he was not a French-
man ; he might be a Jew ; he might be something
deeper yet in the dark heart of the East, In the
bright coloured Persian tiles and pictures showing
tyrants hunting, you may see just those almond
eyes, those blue-black beards, those cruel, crimson
Then came Syme, and next a very old man. Pro-
fessor de Worms, who still kept the chair of Friday,
though every day it was expected that his death
would leave it empty. Save for his intellect, he was
in the last dissolution of senile decay. His face was
as grey as his long grey beard, his forehead was
lifted and fixed finally in a furrow of mild despair.
In no other case, not even that of Gogol, did the
bridegroom brilliancy of the morning dress express
a more painful contrast. For the red flower in his
buttonhole showed up against a face that was
literally discoloured like lead ; the whole hideous
effect was as if some drunken dandies had put their
THE FEAST OF FEAR 8i
clothes upon a corpse. When he rose or sat down,
which was with long labour and peril, something
worse was expressed than mere weakness, some-
thing indefinably connected with the horror of the
whole scene. It did not express decrepitude merely,
but corruption. Another hateful fancy crossed
Syme's quivering mind. He could not help think-
ing that whenever the man moved a leg or arm
might fall off.
Right at the end sat the man called Saturday, the
simplest and the most baffling of all. He was a
short, square man with a dark, square face clean-
shaven, a medical practitioner going by the name
of Bull. He had that combination of savoir-faire
with a sort of well-groomed coarseness which is not
uncommon in young doctors. He carried his fine
clothes with confidence rather than ease, and he
mostly wore a set smile. There was nothing what-
ever odd about him, except that he wore a pair of
dark, almost opaque spectacles. It may have been
merely a crescendo of nervous fancy that had gone
before, but those black discs were dreadful to Syme ;
they reminded him of half-remembered ugly tales,
of some story about pennies being put on the eyes
of the dead. Syme's eye always caught the black
glasses and the blind grin. Had the dying Profcs-
82 THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
sor worn them, or even the pale Secretary, they
would have been appropriate. But on the younger
and grosser man they seemed only an enigma.
They took away the key of the face. You could
not tell what his smile or his gravity meant. Partly
from this, and partly because he had a vulgar
virility wanting in most of the others, it seemed to
Syme that he might be the wickedest of all those
wicked men. Syme even had the thought that his
eyes might be covered up because they were too
frightful to see.
Such were the six men who had sworn to destroy
the world. Again and again Syme strove to pull
together his common sense in their presence.
Sometimes he saw for an instant that these notions
were subjective, that he was only looking at ordi-
nary men, one of whom was old, another nervous,
another short-sighted. The sense of an unnatural
symbolism always settled back on him again. Each
figure seemed to be, somehow, on the borderland of
things, just as their theory was on the borderland of
thought. He knew that each one of these men
stood at the extreme end, so to speak, of some wild
road of reasoning. I le could only fancy, as in some
old-world fable, that if a man went westward to the
end of the world he would find something — say a
tree — that was more or less than a tree, a tree
possessed by a spirit ; and that if he went east to the
end of the world he would find something else that
was not wholly itself — a tower, perhaps, of which
the very shape was wicked. So these figures
84 THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
seemed to stand up, violent and unaccountable,
against an ultimate horizon, visions from the verge.
The ends of the earth were closing in.
Talk had been going on steadily as he took in
the scene; and not the least of the contrasts of
that bewildering breakfast-table was the contrast
between the easy and unobtrusive tone of talk and
its terrible purport. They were deep in the discus-
sion of an actual and immediate plot. The waiter
down-stairs had spoken quite correctly when he
said that they were talking about bombs and kings.
Only three days afterwards the Czar was to meet
the President of the French Republic in Paris, and
over their bacon and eggs upon their sunny balcony
these beaming gentlemen had decided how both
should die. Even the instrument was chosen ; the
black-bearded Marquis, it appeared, was to carry
Ordinarily speaking, the proximity of this pos-
itive and objective crime would have sobered Syme,
and cured him of all his merely mystical tremors.
He would have thought of nothing but the need
of saving at least two human bodies from being
ripped in pieces with iron and roaring gas. But
the truth was that by this time he had begun to it
feel a third kind of fear, more piercing and practical
THE EXPOSURE 85
than either his moral revulsion or his social re-
sponsibility. Very simply, he had no fear to spare
for the French President or the Czar ; he had begun
to fear for himself. Most of the talkers took little
heed of him, debating now with their faces closer
together, and almost uniformly grave, save when
for an instant thd smile of the Secretary ran aslant
across his face as the jagged lightning runs aslant
across the sky. But there was one persistent thing
which first troubled Syme and at last terrified him.
The President was always looking at him, steadily,
and with a great and baffling interest. The enor-
mous man was quite quiet, but his blue eyes stood
out of his head. And they were always fixed on
Syme felt moved to spring up and leap over the
balcony. When the President's eyes were on him
he felt as if he were made of glass. He had hardly
the shred of a doubt that in some silent and extra-
ordinary way Sunday had found out that he was a
spy. He looked over the edge of the balcony, and
saw a policeman standing abstractedly just beneath,
staring at the bright railings and the sunlit trees.
Then there fell upon him the great temptation
that was to torment him for many days. In the
presence of these powerful and repulsive men, who
86 THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
were the princes of anarchy, he had almost for-
gotten the frail and fanciful figure of the poet
Gregory, the mere aesthete of anarchism. He
even thought of him now with an old kindness, as
if they had played together when children. But
he remembered that he was still tied to Gregory by
a great promise. He had promised never to do the
very thing that he now felt himself almost in the
act of doing. He had promised not to jump over
that balcony and speak to that policeman. He
took his cold hand off the cold stone balustrade.
His soul swayed in a vertigo of moral indecision.
He had only to snap the thread of a rash vow
made to a villainous society, and all his Ufe could
be as open and sunny as the square beneath him.
He had, on the other hand, only to keep his
antiquated honour, and be delivered inch by inch
into the power of this great enemy of mankind,
whose very intellect was a torture-chamber. When-
ever he looked down into the square he saw the
comfortable policeman, a pillar of common-sense
and common order. Whenever he looked back at
the breakfast-table he saw the President still quietly
studying him with big, unbearable eyes.
In all the torrent of his thought there were two
thoughts that never crossed his mind. First, it
THE EXPOSURE 87
never occurred to him to dmibt that the President
and his Council could crush him if he continued to
stand alone. The place might be public, the project
might seem impossible. But Sunday was not the
man who would carry himself thus easily without
having, somehow or somewhere, set open his iron
trap. Either by anonymous poison or sudden
street accident, by hypnotism or by fire from hell,
Sunday could certainly strike him. If he defied
the man he was probably dead, either struck stiff
there in his chair or long afterwards as by an
innocent ailment. If he called in the police
promptly, arrested every one, told all, and set
against them the whole energy of England, he
would probably escape ; certainly not otherwise.
They were a balconyful of gentlemen overlooking
a bright and busy square ; but he felt no more safe
with them than if they had been a boatful of armed
pirates overlooking an empty sea.
There was a second thought that never came to
him. It never occurred to him to be spiritually
won over to the enemy. Many moderns, inured to
a weak worship of intellect and force, might have
wavered in their allegiance under this oppression
of a great personality. They might have called
Sunday the super-man. If any such creature be
88 THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
conceivable, he looked, indeed, somewhat like it,
with his earth-shaking abstraction, as of a stone
statue walking. He might have been called some-
thing above man, with his large plans, which were
too obvious to be detected, with his large face,
which was too frank to be understood. But this
was a kind of modern meanness to which Syme
could not sink even in his extreme morbidity.
Like any man, he was coward enough to fear great
force ; but he was not quite coward enough to ad-
The men were eating as they talked, and even in
this they were typical. Dr. Bull and the Marquis
ate casually and conventionally of the best things
on the table — cold pheasant or Strasbourg pie.
But the Secretary was a vegetarian, and he spoke
earnestly of the projected murder over half a raw
tomato and three quarters of a glass of tepid water.
The old Professor had such slops as suggested a
sickening second childhood. And even in this
President Sunday preserved his curious predomi-
nance of mere mass. For he ate like twenty men ;
he ate incredibly, with a frightful freshness of
appetite, so that it was like watching a sausage
factory. Yet continually, when he had swallowed
a dozen crumpets or drunk a quart of coffee, he
THK EXPOSURE 89
would be found with his great head on one side
staring at Symc.
" I have often wondered," said the MarquiSj
taking a great bite out of a shoe of bread and jam,
" whether it wouldn't be better for me to do it with
a knife. Most of the best things have been brought
offwith a knife. And it would be a new emotion to get
a knife into a French President and wriggle it round."
•' You are wrong," said the Secretary, drawing
his black brows together. " The knife was merely
the expression of the old personal quarrel with a
personal tyrant. Dynamite is not only our best
tool, but our best symbol. It is as perfect a symbol
of us as is incense of the prayers of the Christians.
It expands ; it only destroys because it broadens ;
even so, thought only destroys because it broadens.
A man's brain is a bomb," he cried out, loosening
suddenly his strange passion and striking his own
skull with violence. " My brain feels like a bomb,
night and day. It must expand ! It must expand !
A man's brain must expand, if it breaks up the
" I don't want the universe broken up just yet,"
drawled the Marquis. " I want to do a lot of
beastly things before I die. I thought of one yes-
terday in bed."
90 THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
** No, if the only end of the thing is nothing/'
said Dr. Bull with his sphinx-like smile, " it hardly
seems worth doing."
The old Professor was staring at the ceiUng with
" Every man knows in his heart," he said, " that
nothing is worth doing."
There was a singular silence, and then the Secre-
tary said —
" We are wandering, however, from the point.
The only question is how Wednesday is to strike
the blow. I take it we should all agree with the
original notion of a bomb. As to the actual
arrangements, I should suggest that to-morrow
morning he should go first of all to "
The speech was broken off short under a vast
shadow. President Sunday had risen to his feet,
seeming to fill the sky above them.
" Before we discuss that," he said in a small,
quiet voice, " let us go into a private room, I have
something very particular to say."
Syme stood up before any of the others. The
instant of choice had come at last, the pistol was
at his head. On the pavement below he could hear
the policeman idly stir and stamp, for the morning,
though bright, was cold.
THE EXPOSURE 91
A barrel-organ in the street suddenly sprang with
a jerk into a jovial tune. Syme stood up taut, as
if it had been a bugle before the battle. He found
himself filled with a supernatural courage that came
from nowhere. That jingling music seemed full of
the vivacity, the vulgarity, and the irrational valour
of the poor, who in all those unclean streets were
all clinging to the decencies and the charities of
Christendom. His youthful prank of being a police-
man had faded from his mind ; he did not think of
himself as the representative of the corps of gentle-
men turned into fancy constables, or of the old
eccentric who lived in the dark room. But he did
feel himself as the ambassador of all these common
and kindly people in the street, who every day
marched into battle to the music of the barrel-organ.
And this high pride in being human had lifted him
unaccountably to an infinite height above the mon-
strous men around him. For an instant, at least,
he looked down upon all their sprawling eccen-
tricities from the starry pinnacle of the common-
place. He felt towards them all that unconscious
and elementary superiority that a brave man feels
over powerful beasts or a wise man over powerful
errors. I le knew that he had neither the intel-
lectual nor the physical strength of President Sun-
THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
day; but in that moment he minded it no more
than the fact that he had not the muscles of a tiger
or a horn on his nose Hke a rhinoceros. All was
swallowed up in an ultimate certainty that the
President was wrong and that the barrel-organ was
right. There clanged in his mind that unanswer-
able and terrible truism in the song of Roland —
" Paiens ont tort et Chretiens ont droit,"
which in the old nasal French has the clang and
groan of great iron. This liberation of his spirit
from the load of his weakness went with a quite
clear decision to embrace death. If the people of
the barrel-organ could keep their old-world obliga-
tions, so could he. This very pride in keeping his
word was that he was keeping it to miscreants. It
was his last triumph over these lunatics to go down
into their dark room and die for something that
they could not even understand. The barrel-organ
seemed to give the marching tune with the energy
and the mingled noises of a whole orchestra ; and
he could hear deep and rolling, under all the trum-
pets of the pride of life, the drums of the pride of death.
The conspirators were already filing through the
open window and into the rooms behind. Syme
went last, outwardly calm, but with all his brain
THE EXPOSURE 93
and body throbbing with romantic rhythm. The
President led them down an irregular side stair, such
as might be used by servants, and into a dim, cold,
empty room, with a table and benches, like an
abandoned board-room. When they were all in, he
closed and locked the door.
The first to speak was Gogol, the irreconcilable,
who seemed bursting with inarticulate grievance.
" Zso ! Zso!" he cried/ with an obscure excite-
ment, his heavy Polish accent becoming almost im-
penetrable. " You zay you nod 'ide. You zay you
show himselves. It is all nuzzinks. Ven you vant
talk importance you run yourselves in a dark box ! "
The President seemed to take the foreigner's inco-
herent satire with entire good humour.
" You can't get hold of it yet, Gogol," he said in
a fatherly way. " When once they have heard us
talking nonsense on that balcony they will not care
where we go afterwards. If we had come here first,
we should have had the whole staff at the keyhole.
You don't seem to know anything about mankind."
" I die for zcm," cried the Pole in thick excite-
ment, " and I slay zare oppressors. I care not for
these games of gonzealment. I would zmite ze
tyrant in ze open square."
" I see, I see," said the President, nodding kindly
94 THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
as he seated himself at the top of a long table.
" You die for mankind first, and then you get up
and smite their oppressors. So that's all right.
And now may I ask you to control your beautiful
sentiments, and sit down with the other gentlemen
at this table. For the first time this morning some-
thing intelligent is going to be said,"
Syme, with the perturbed promptitude he had
shown since the original summons, sat down first.
Gogol sat down last, grumbling in his brown beard
about gombromise. No one except Syme seemed
to have any notion of the blow that was about to
fall. As for him, he had merely the feeling of a
man mounting the scaffold with the intention, at
any rate, of making a good speech.
" Comrades," said the President, suddenly rising,
" we have spun out this farce long enough. I have
called you down here to tell you something so sim-
ple and shocking that even the waiters up-stairs
(long inured to our levities) might hear some new
seriousness in my voice. Comrades, we were dis-
cussing plans and naming places. I propose, before
saying anything else, that those plans and places
should not be voted by this meeting, but should be
left wholly in the control of some one reliable mem-
ber. I suggest Comrade Saturday, Dr. Bull,"
THE EXPOSURE 95
They all stared at him ; then they all started in their
seats, for the next words, though not loud, had a living
and sensational emphasis. Sunday struck the table,
•' Not one word more about the plans and places
must be said at this meeting. Not one tiny detail
more about what we mean to do must be mentioned
in this company."
Sunday had spent his life in astonishing his fol-
lowers ; but it seemed as if he had never really
astonished them until now. They all moved fever-
ishly in their seats, except Syme. He sat stiff in
his, with his hand in his pocket, and on the handle
of his loaded revolver. When the attack on him
came he would sell his life dear. He would find
out at least if the President was mortal.
Sunday went on smoothly —
" You will probably understand that there is only
one possible motive for forbidding free speech at
this festival of freedom. Strangers overhearing us
matters nothing. They assume that we are joking.
But what would matter, even unto death, is this,
tliat there should be one actually among us who is
not of us, who knows our grave purpose, but does
not share it, who "
The Secretary screamed out suddenly like a
96 THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
" It can't be ! " he cried, leaping, " There
The President flapped his large flat hand on the
table like the fin of some huge fish.
" Yes," he said slowly, " there is a spy in this
room. There is a traitor at this table. I will waste
no more words. His name "
Syme half rose from his seat, his finger firm on
" His name is Gogol," said the President. " He is
that hairy humbug over there who pretends to be a
Gogol sprang to his feet, a pistol in each hand.
With the same flash three men sprang at his throat.
Even the Professor made an effort to rise. But
Syme saw little of the scene, for he was blinded
with a beneficent darkness ; he had sunk down into
his seat shuddering, in a palsy of passionate relief.
THE UNACCOUNTABLE CONDUCT OF PROFESSOR DE
" Sit down ! " said Sunday in a voice that he used
once or twice in his life, a voice that made men
drop drawn swords.
The three who had risen fell away from Gogol,
and that equivocal person himself resumed his
" Well, my man," said the President briskly, ad-
dressing him as one addresses a total stranger," will
you oblige me by putting your hand in your upper
waistcoat pocket and showing nic what you have
there ? "
The alleged Pole was a little pale under his tangle
of dark hair, but he put two fingers into the pocket
with apparent coolness and pulled out a blue strip
of card. When Syme saw it lying on the table, he
woke up again to the world outside him. I^'or
although the card lay at tlic other extreme of the
table, and he could read nothing of the inscription
on it, it bore a startling resemblance to the blue
card in his own pocket, the card which had been
98 THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
given to him when he joined the anti-anarchist con-
" Pathetic Slav," said the President, " tragic child
of Poland, are you prepared in the presence of that
card to deny that you are in this company — shall
we say de trop f "
•' Right oh ! " said the late Gogol. It made every
one jump to hear a clear, commercial and somewhat
cockney voice coming out of that forest of foreign
hair. It was irrational, as if a Chinaman had sud-
denly spoken with a Scotch accent.
" I gather that you fully understand your posi-
tion," said Sunday.
" You bet," answered the Pole. " I see it's a fair
cop. All I say is, I don't believe any Pole could
have imitated my accent like I did his."
" I concede the point," said Sunday. " I beheve
your own accent to be inimitable, though I shall
practice it in my bath. Do you mind leaving your
beard with your card ? "
" Not a bit," answered Gogol ; and with one finger
he ripped off the whole of his shaggy head-cover-
ing, emerging with thin red hair and a pale, pert
face. " It was hot," he added.
" I will do you the justice to say," said Sunday,
not without a sort of brutal admiration, " that you
CONDUCT OF PROFESSOR DE WORMS 99
seem to have kept pretty cool under it. Now listen
to me. I like you. The consequence is that it
would annoy me for just about two and a half min-
utes if I heard that you had died in torments.
Well, if you ever tell the poHce or any human soul
about us, I shall have that two and a half minutes
of discomfort. On your discomfort I will not dwell.
Good-day. Mind the step."
The red-haired detective who had masqueraded
as Gogol rose to his feet without a word, and walked
out of the room with an air of perfect nonchalance.
Yet the astonished Syme was able to realise that
this ease was suddenly assumed ; for there was a
slight stumble outside the door, which showed that
the departing detective had not minded the step.
" Time is flying," said the President in his gayest
manner, after glancing at his watch, which like
everything about him seemed bigger tlian it ought
to be. " I must get off at once ; I have to take the
chair at a Humanitarian meeting."
The Secretary turned to him with working eye-
" Would it not be better," he said a little sharply,
" to discuss further the details of our project, now
that the spy has left us ? "
" No, I think not," said the President with a yawn
loo THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
like an unobtrusive earthquake. " Leave it as it is.
Let Saturday settle it. I must be off. Breakfast
here next Sunday."
But the late loud scenes had whipped up the
almost naked nerves of the Secretary, He was one
of those men who are conscientious even in crime.
" I must protest, President, that the thing is ir-
regular," he said. ** It is a fundamental rule of our
society that all plans shall be debated in full council.
Of course, I fully appreciate your forethought when
in the actual presence of a traitor "
" Secretary," said the President seriously, " if
you'd take your head home and boil it for a turnip
it might be useful. I can't say. But it might."
The Secretary reared back in a kind of equine
" I really fail to understand " he began in
•' That's it, that's it," said the President, nodding
a great many times. " That's where you fail right
enough. You fail to understand. Why, you danc-
ing donkey," he roared, rising, " you didn't want to
be overheard by a spy, didn't you ? How do you
know you aren't overheard now ? "
And with these words he shouldered his way out
of the room, shaking with incomprehensible scorn.
CONDUCT OF PROFESSOR DE WORMS loi
Four of the men left behind gaped after him
without any apparent glimmering of his meaning.
Syme alone had even a glimmering, and such as it
was it froze him to the bone. If the last words of
the President meant anything, they meant that he
had not after all passed unsuspected. They meant
that while Sunday could not denounce him like
Gogol, he still could not trust him like the others.
The other four got to their feet grumbling more
or less, and betook themselves elsewhere to find
lunch, for it was already well past midday. The
Professor went last, very slowly and painfully.
Syme sat long after the rest had gone, revolving his
strange position. He had escaped a thunderbolt,
but he was still under a cloud. At last he rose and
made his way out of the hotel into Leicester Square.
The bright, cold day had grown increasingly colder,
and when he came out into the street he was sur-
prised by a few flakes of snow. While he still
carried the sword-stick and the rest of Gregory's
portable luggage, he had thrown the cloak down
and left it somewhere, perhaps on the steam-tug,
perhaps on the balcony. Hoping, therefore, tliat
the snow-shower might be slight, he stepped back
out of the street for a moment and stood up under
the doorway of a small and greasy hair-drcsscr's
I02 THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
shop, the front window of which was empty, except
for a sickly wax lady in evening dress.
■ Snow, however, began to thicken and fall fast ;
and Syme, having found one glance at the wax
lady quite sufficient to depress his spirits, stared out
instead into the white and empty street. He was
considerably astonished to see, standing quite still
outside the shop and staring into the window, a
man. His top hat was loaded with snow like the
hat of Father Christmas, the white drift was rising
round his boots and ankles ; but it seemed as if
nothing could tear him away from the contempla-
tion of the colourless wax doll in dirty evening
dress. That any human being should stand in such
weather looking into such a shop was a matter of
sufficient wonder to Syme ; but his idle wonder
turned suddenly into a personal shock ; for he
realised that the man standing there was the paralytic
old Professor de Worms. It scarcely seemed the
place for a person of his years and infirmities.
Syme was ready to believe anything about the
perversions of this dehumanised brotherhood ; but
even he could not believe that the Professor had
fallen in love with that particular wax lady. He
could only suppose that the man's malady (what-
ever it was) involved some momentary fits of
CONDUCT OF PROFESSOR DF WORMS 103
rigidity or trance. lie was nut inclined, however,
to feel in tliis case any very compassionate concern.
On the contrary, he rather congratulated himself
that the Professor's stroke and his elaborate and
limping walk would make it easy to escape from
him and leave him miles behind. For Syme thirsted
first and last to get clear of the whole poisonous
atmosphere, if only for an hour. Then he could
collect his thoughts, formulate his poUcy, and decide
finally whether he should or should not keep faith
He strolled away through the dancing snow,
turned up two or three streets, down through two
or three others, and entered a small Soho restaurant
for lunch. He partook reflectively of four small and
quaint courses, drank half a bottle of red wine, and
ended up over black coflee and a black cigar, still
thinking. He had taken his seat in the upper room
of the restaurant, which was full of the chink of
knives and the chatter of foreigners. He remem-
bered that in old days he had imagined that all
these harmless and kindly aliens were anarchists.
He shuddered, remembering the real thing. IJut
even the shudder had the delightful shame of
escape. The wine, the common food, the familiar
place, the faces of natural and talkative men, made
104 THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
him almost feel as if the Council of the Seven Days
had been a bad dream ; and although he knew it
was nevertheless an objective reality, it was at least
a distant one. Tall houses and populous streets lay
between him and his last sight of the shameful
seven ; he was free in free London, and drinking
wine among the free. With a somewhat easier
action, he took his hat and stick and strolled down
the stair into the shop below.
When he entered that lower room he stood
stricken and rooted to the spot. At a small table,
close up to the blank window and the white street
of snow, sat the old anarchist Professor over a glass
of milk, with his lifted livid face and pendent eye-
lids. For an instant Syme stood as rigid as the
stick he leant upon. Then with a gesture as of
blind hurry, he brushed past the Professor, dashing
open the door and slamming it behind him, and
stood outside in the snow.
" Can that old corpse be following me ? " he
asked himself, biting his yellow moustache. " I
stopped too long up in that room, so that even
such leaden feet could catch me up. One comfort
is, with a little brisk walking I can put a man like
that as far away as Timbuctoo. Or am I too fanci-
ful ? Was he really following me ? Surely Sunday
CONDUCT OF PROFESSOR DE WORMS 105
would not be such a fool as to send a lame
man ? "
He set off at a smart pace, twisting and whirling
his stick, in the direction of Covent Garden. As
he crossed the great market the snow increased,
growing bhnding and bewildering as the afternoon
began to darken. The snowflakes tormented him
like a swarm of silver bees. Getting into his eyes
and beard, they added their unremitting futility
to his already irritated nerves ; and by the time
that he had come at a swinging pace to the begin-
ning of Fleet Street, he lost patience, and finding a
Sunday tea-shop, turned into it to take shelter. He
ordered another cup of black coffee as an excuse.
Scarcely had he done so, when Professor de Worms
hobbled heavily into the shop, sat down with diffi-
culty and ordered a glass of milk.
Syme's walking-stick had fallen from his hand
with a great clang, which confessed the concealed
steel. But the Professor did not look round.
Syme, who was commonly a cool character, was
hterally gaping as a rustic gapes at a conjuring
trick. He had seen no cab following ; • he had
heard no wheels outside the shop ; to all mortal
appearances the man had come on foot. But the
old man could only walk like a snail, and Syme
io6 THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
had walked like the wind. He started up and
snatched his stick, half crazy with the contradiction
in mere arithmetic, and swung out of the swinging
doors, leaving his coffee untasted. An omnibus
going to the Bank went rattling by with an unusual
rapidity. He had a violent run of a hundred yards
to reach it ; but he managed to spring, swaying
upon the splash-board, and pausing for an instant
to pant, he climbed on to the top. When he had
been seated for about half a minute, he heard be-
hind him a sort of heavy and asthmatic breathing.
Turning sharply, he saw rising gradually higher
and higher up the omnibus steps a top hat soiled
and dripping with snow, and under the shadow of
its brim the short-sighted face and shaky shoulders
of Professor de Worms. He let himself into a seat
with characteristic care, and wrapped himself up to
the chin in the mackintosh rug.
Every movement of the old man's tottering
figure and vague hands, every uncertain gesture
and panic-stricken pause, seemed to put it beyond
question that he was helpless, that he was in the
last imbecility of the body. He moved by inches,
he let himself down with little gasps of caution.
And yet, unless the philosophical entities called
time and space have no vestige even of a practical
CONDUCT OF PROFESSOR DK WORMS 107
existence, it appeared quite unquestionable that he
had run after the omnibus.
Syme sprang erect upon the rocking car, and
after staring wildly at the wintry sky, that grew
gloomier every moment, he ran down the steps,
lie had repressed an elemental impulse to leap over
Too bewildered to look back or to reason, he
rushed into one of the little courts at the side of
Fleet Street as a rabbit rushes into a hole. He had
a vague idea, if this incomprehensible old Jack-in-
thc box was really pursuing him, that in that laby-
rinth of little streets he could soon throw him off
the scent. He dived in and out of those crooked
lanes, which were more like cracks than thorough-
fares ; and by the time that he had completed about
twenty alternate angles and described an unthink-
able polygon, he paused to listen for any sound of
pursuit. There was none; there could not in any
case have been much, for the little streets were
thick with the soundless snow. Somewhere behind
Red Lion Court, however, he noticed a place where
some energetic citi/.en had cleared away the snow
for a space of about twent}- )-ards, leaving the wet,
glistening cobblestones. He thought little of this
as he passed it, only plunging into yet another
io8 THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
arm of the maze. But when a few hundred yards
farther on he stood still again to listen, his heart
stood still also, for he heard from that space of
rugged stones the clinking crutch and labouring
feet of the infernal cripple.
The sky above was loaded with the clouds of
snow, leaving London in a darkness and oppression
premature for that hour of the evening. On each
side of Syme the walls of the alley were blind and
featureless ; there was no little window or any kind
of eye. He felt a new impulse to break out of this
hive of houses, and to get once more into the open
and lamp-lit street. Yet he rambled and dodged
for a long time before he struck the main thorough-
fare. When he did so, he struck it much farther
up than he had fancied. He came out into what
seemed the vast and void of Ludgate Circus, and
saw St. Paul's Cathedral sitting in the sky.
At first he was startled to find these great roads
so empty, as if a pestilence had swept through the
city. Then he told himself that some degree of
emptiness was natural ; first because the snow-storm
was even dangerously deep, and secondly because
it was Sunday. And at the very word Sunday he
bit his lip ; the word was henceforth for him like
some indecent pun. Under the white fog of snow
CONDUCT OF PROFESSOR DK WORMS 109
high up in the heaven the whole atmosphere of the
city was turned to a very queer kind of green twi-
hght, as of men under the sea. The scaled and
sullen sunset behind the dark dome of St. Paul's
had in it smoky and sinister colours — colours of
sickly green, dead red or decaying bronze, that
were just bright enough to emphasise the solid
whiteness of the snow. Hut right up against these
dreary colours rose the black bulk of the cathedral;
and upon the top of the cathedral was a random
splash and great stain of snow, still clinging as to
an Alpine peak. It had fallen accidentally, but
just so fallen as to half drape the dome from its
very topmost point, and to pick out in perfect
silver the great orb and the cross. When Syme
saw it he suddenly straightened himself, and made
with his sword-stick an involuntarj' salute.
He knew that that evil figure, his shadow, was
creeping quickly or slowly behind him, and he did
not care. It seemed a symbol of human faith and
valour that while the skies were darkening that
high place of the earth was bright. The devils
might have captured heaven, but they had not yet
captured the cross. He had a new impulse to tear
out the secret of this dancing, jumping and pursu-
ing paralytic ; and at the entrance of the court as
no THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
it opened upon the Circus he turned, stick in hand,
to face his pursuer.
Professor de Worms came slowly round the
corner of the irregular alley behind him, his un-
natural form outUned against a lonely gas-lamp,
irresistibly recalling that very imaginative figure in
the nursery rhymes, " the crooked man who went
a crooked mile." He really looked as if he had
been twisted out of shape by the tortuous streets
he had been threading. He came nearer and
nearer, the lamplight shining on his lifted spec-
tacles, his lifted, patient face. Syme waited for him
as St. George waited for the dragon, as a man waits
for a final explanation or for death. And the old
Professor came right up to him and passed him like
a total stranger, without even a blink of his mourn-
There was something in this silent and unex-
pected innocence that left Syme in a final fury.
The man's colourless face and manner seemed to
assert that the whole following had been an acci-
dent. Syme was galvanised with an energy that
was something between bitterness and a burst of
boyish derision. He made a wild gesture as if to
knock the old man's hat off, called out something
like " Catch me if you can," and went racing away
CONDUCT OF PROFESSOR DE WORMS in
across the white, open Circus. Concealment was
impossible now ; and looking back over his shoulder,
he could see the black figure of the old gentleman
coming after him with long, swinging strides like a
man winning a mile race. But the head upon that
bounding body was still pale, grave and pro-
fessional, like the head of a lecturer upon the body
of a harlequin.
This outrageous chase sped across Ludgate Circus,
up Ludgate Hill, round St. Paul's Cathedral, along
Cheapside, Syme remembering all the nightmares
he had ever known. Then Syme broke away to-
wards the river, and ended almost down by the
docks. He saw the yellow panes of a low, lighted
pubhc-house, flung himself into it and ordered beer.
It was a foul tavern, sprinkled with foreign sailors,
a place where opium might be smoked or knives
A moment later Professor de Worms entered the
place, sat down carefully, and asked for a glass of
THE PROFESSOR EXPLAINS
When Gabriel Syme found himself finally estab-
ished in a chair, and opposite to him, fixed and final
also, the lifted eyebrows and leaden eyelids of the
Professor, his fears fully returned. This incompre-
hensible man from the fierce council, after all, had
certainly pursued him. If the man had one char-
acter as a paralytic and another character as a pur-
suer, the antithesis might make him more interesting,
but scarcely more soothing. It would be a very
small comfort that he could not find the Professor
out, if by some serious accident the Professor should
find him out. He emptied a whole pewter pot of
ale before the Professor had touched his milk.
One possibility, however, kept him hopeful and
yet helpless. It was just possible that this escapade
signified something other than even a shght suspicion
of him. Perhaps it was some regular form or sign.
Perhaps the foolish scamper was some sort of friendly
signal that he ought to have understood. Perhaps
it was a ritual. Perhaps the new Thursday was
THE PROFESSOR EXPLAINS 113
always chased along Cheapsidc, as the new Lord
Mayor is always escorted along it. He was just
selecting a tentative inquiry, when the old Professor
opposite suddenly and simply cut him short. Be-
fore Syme could ask the first diplomatic question,
the old anarchist had asked suddenly, without any
sort of preparation —
" Are you a policeman ? "
Whatever else Syme had expected, he had never
expected anything so brutal and actual as this.
Even his great presence of mind could only manage
a reply with an air of rather blundering jocu-
" A policeman ? " he said, laughing vaguely.
"Whatever made you think of a policeman in con-
nection with me? "
" The process was simple enough," answered the
Professor patiently. " I thought you looked like a
policeman. I think so now."
" Did I take a policeman's hat by mistake out of
tlie restaurant?" asked Syme, smiling wildly.
" Have I by any chance got a number stuck on to
rae somewhere ? Have my boots got that watchful
look ? Why must I be a policeman ? Do, do let
me be a postman,"
The old Professor shook his head with a gravity
114 THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
that gave no hope, but Syme ran on with a feverish
" But perhaps I misunderstood the dehcacies of
your German philosophy. Perhaps pohceman is a
relative term. In an evolutionary sense, sir, the
ape fades so gradually into the policeman, that I
myself can never detect the shade. The monkey is
only the policeman that may be. Perhaps a maiden
lady on Clapham Common is only the policeman
that might have been. I don't mind being the
policeman that might have been. I don't mind
being anything in German thought."
" Are you in the police service ? " said the old
man, ignoring all Syme's improvised and desperate
raillery. " Are you a detective ? "
Syme's heart turned to stone, but his face never
•' Your suggestion is ridiculous," he began.
"Why on earth "
The old man struck his palsied hand passionately
on the rickety table, nearly breaking it.
•' Did you hear me ask a plain question, you
paltering spy ? " he shrieked in a high, crazy voice.
" Are you, or are you not, a police detective ? "
" No ! " answered Syme, like a man standing on
the hangman's drop.
THE PROFESSOR EXPLAINS 115
" You swear it," said the old man, leaning across
to him, iiis dead face becoming as it were loath-
somely alive. " You swear it ! You swear it ! If
you swear falsely, will you be damned ? Will you
be sure that the devil dances at your funeral ? Will
you see that the nightmare .sits on your grave?
Will there really be no mistake ? You are an an-
archist, you are a dj-nainitcr! Above all, you are
not in any sense a detective? You are not in the
British police ? "
He leant his angular elbow far across the table,
and put up his large loose hand like a flap to his
" I am not in the British police," said Syme with
Professor dc Worms fell back in his chair with a
curious air of kindly collapse.
"That's a pity," lie said, " because I am."
Syme sprang up straight, sending back the bench
behind him with a crash.
"Because you are what?" he said thickly.
" You are what ? "
" I am a policeman," said the Professor with his
first broad smile, and beaming through his spec-
tacles. " But as you think policeman only a relative
term, of course I have nothing to do with you. I
ii6 THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
am in the British poHce force ; but as you tell me
you are not in the British pohce force, I can only
say that I met you in a dynamiter's club. I sup-
pose I ought to arrest you." And with these
words he laid on the table before Syme an exact
facsimile of the blue card which Syme had in his
own waistcoat pocket, the symbol of his power
from the police.
Syme had for a flash the sensation that the
cosmos had turned exactly upside down, that all
trees were growing downwards and that all stars
were under his feet. Then came slowly the oppo-
site conviction. For the last twenty-four hours the
cosmos had really been upside down, but now the
capsized universe had come right side up again.
This devil from whom he had been fleeing all day
was only an elder brother of his own house, who on
the other side of the table lay back and laughed at
him. He did not for the moment ask any ques-
tions of detail ; he only knew the happy and silly
fact that this shadow, which had pursued him with
an intolerable oppression of peril, was only the
shadow of a friend trying to catch him up. He
knew simultaneously that he was a fool and a free
man. For with any recovery from morbidity there
must go a certain healthy humiliation. There
THE PROFESSOR EXPLAINS 117
comes a certain point in such conditions when only
tliree things are possible : first a perpetuation of
Satanic pride, secondly tears, and third laughter.
Syme's egotism held hard to the first course for a
few seconds, and then suddenly adopted the third.
Taking his own blue police ticket from his own
waistcoat pocket, he tossed it on to the table ; then
he flung his head back until his spike of yellow
beard almost pointed at the ceiUng, and shouted
with a barbaric laughter.
Even in that close den, perpetually filled with the
din of knives, plates, cans, clamorous voices, sud-
den struggles and stampedes, there was something
Homeric in Syme's mirth which made many half-
drunken men look round.
•' What yer laughing at, guv'nor ? " asked one
wondering labourer from the docks.
" At myself," answered Syme, and went off again
into the agony of his ecstatic reaction.
" Pull yourself together," said the Professor, " or
you'll get hysterical. Have some more beer. I'll
" You haven't drunk your milk," said Syme.
" My milk ! " said the other, in tones of withering
and unfathomable contempt, " my milk ! Do you
think I'd look at the beastly stuff when I'm out of
ii8 THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
sight of the bloody anarchists ? We're all Chris-
tians in this room, though perhaps," he added,
glancing around at the reeling crowd, " not strict
ones. Finish my milk ? Great blazes ! yes, I'll
finish it right enough ! " and he knocked the
tumbler off the table, making a crash of glass
and a splash of silver fluid.
Syme was staring at him with a happy curiosity.
" I understand now," he cried ; " of course,
you're not an old man at all."
" I can't take my face off here," replied Professor
de Worms. " It's rather an elaborate make-up.
As to whether I'm an old man, that's not for me
to say. I was thirty- eight last birthday."
" Yes, but I mean," said Syme impatiently,
** there's nothing the matter with you."
" Yes," answered the other dispassionately, " I
am subject to colds."
Syme's laughter at all this had about it a wild
weakness of relief. He laughed at the idea of the
paralytic Professor being really a young actor
dressed up as if for the footlights. But he felt
that he would have laughed as loudly if a pepper-
pot had fallen over.
The false Professor drank and wiped his false
THE PROFESSOR EXPLAINS 119
" Did you know," he asked, " that that man
Gogol was one of us ? "
" 1 ? No, I didn't know it," answered Syme in
some suqDrise. " But didn't you ? "
" I knew no more than the dead," rephed the
man who called himself de Worms. " I thought
the President was talking about me, and I rattled
in my boots."
" And I thought he was talking about me," said
Syme, with his rather reckless laughter. " I had
my hand on my revolver all the time."
" So had I," said the Professor grimly; " so had
Syme struck the table with an exclamation.
" Why, there were three of us there ! " he cried.
" Three out of seven is a fighting number. If we
had only known that we were three ! "
The face of Professor de Worms darkened, and
he did not look up.
" We were three," he said. " If we had been
three hundred we could still have done nothing."
" Not if we were three hundred against four ? "
asked Syme, jeering rather boisterously.
" No," said the Professor with sobriety, " not if
we were three hundred against Sunday."
And the mere name struck Syme cold and
I20 THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
serious ; his laughter had died in his heart before it
could die on his lips. The face of the unfor-
gettable President sprang into his mind as startling
as a coloured photograph, and he remarked this
difference between Sunday and all his satellites, that
their faces, however fierce or sinister, became
gradually blurred by memory like other human
faces, whereas Sunday's seemed almost to grow
more actual during absence, as if a man's painted
portrait should slowly come alive.
They were both silent for a measure of moments,
and then Syme's speech came with a rush, hke the
sudden foaming of champagne.
" Professor," he cried, '• it is intolerable. Are
you afraid of this man ? "
The Professor lifted his heavy lids, and gazed at
Syme with large, wide-open, blue eyes of an al-
most ethereal honesty.
" Yes, I am," he said mildly. " So are you."
Syme was dumb for an instant. Then he rose to
his feet erect, like an insulted man, and thrust the
chair away from him.
" Yes," he said in a voice indescribable, " you are
right. I am afraid of him. Therefore I swear by
God that I will seek out this man whom I fear
until I find him, and strike him on the mouth. If
THE PROFESSOR EXPLAINS 121
heaven were his throne and the earth his footstool,
I swear that I would pull him down."
" How ? " asked the staring Professor. " Why ? "
" Because I am afraid of him," said Syme ; " and
no man should leave in the universe anything of
which he is afraid."
De Worms blinked at him with a sort of blind
wonder. He made an effort to speak, but Syme
went on in a low voice, but with an undercurrent
of inhuman exaltation —
" Who would condescend to strike down the mere
things that he docs not fear ? Who would debase
himself to be merely brave, like any common prize-
fighter? Who would stoop to be fearless — like a
tree? Fight the thing that you fear. You remem-
ber the old tale of the English clergyman who gave
the last rites to the brigand of Sicily, and how on
his death-bed the great robber said, ' I can gi\-e you
no money, but I can give you advice for a lifetime:
your thumb on the blade, and strike upwards.' So I
say to you, strike upwards, if you strike at the stars."
The other looked at the ceiling, one of the tricks
of his pose.
" Sunday is a fixed star," he said.
" You shall see him a falling star," said Syme,
and put on his hat.
122 THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
The decision of his gesture drew the Professor
vaguely to his feet.
" Have you any idea," he asked, with a sort of
benevolent bewilderment, " exactly where you are
going ? "
" Yes," replied Syme shortly, ** I am going to
prevent this bomb being thrown in Paris."
" Have you any conception how ? " inquired the
" No," said Syme with equal decision.
" You remember, of course," resumed the soi-
disant de Worms, pulling his beard and looking out
of the window, " that when we broke up rather
hurriedly the whole arrangements for the atrocity
were left in the private hands of the Marquis and
Dr. Bull. The Marquis is by this time probably
crossing the Channel. But where he will go and
what he will do it is doubtful whether even the
President knows ; certainly we don't. The only
man who does know is Dr. Bull."
" Confound it ! " cried Syme. " And we don't
know where he is."
" Yes," said the other in his curious, absent-
minded way, " I know where he is myself."
" Will you tell me ? " asked Syme with eager
THE PROFESSOR EXPLAINS 123
" I will take you there," said the Professor, and
took down his own hat from a peg.
Syme stood looking at him with a sort of rigid
" What do you mean ? " he asked sharply. " Will
you join me ? Will you take the risk ? "
" Young man," said the Professor pleasantly, '♦ I
am amused to observe that you think I am a coward.
As to that I will say only one word, and that shall
be entirely in the manner of your own philosophical
rhetoric. You think that it is possible to pull down
the President. I know that it is impossible, and I
am going to try it," and opening the tavern door,
which let in a blast of bitter air, they went out
together into the dark streets by the docks.
Most of the snow was melted or trampled to mud,
but here and there a clot of it still showed grey
rather than white in the gloom. The small streets
were sloppy and full of pools, which reflected the
flaming lamps irregularly, and by accident, like
fragments of some other and fallen world. Syme
felt almost dazed as he stepped through this grow-
ing confusion of lights and shadows ; but his com-
panion walked on with a certain briskness towards
where, at the end of the street, an inch or two of
the lamplit river looked like a bar of flame.
THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
" Where are you going ? " Syme inquired.
" Just now," answered the Professor, " I am going
just round the corner to see whether Dr. Bull has
gone to bed. He is hygienic, and retires early."
" Dr. Bull ! " exclaimed Syme. " Does he live
round the corner ? "
" No," answered his friend. " As a matter of
fact he lives some way off, on the other side of the
river, but we can tell from here whether he has gone
Turning the corner as he spoke, and facing the
dim river, flecked with flame, he pointed with his
stick to the other bank. On the Surrey side at
this point there ran out into the Thames, seeming
almost to overhang it, a bulk and cluster of those
tall tenements, dotted with lighted windows, and
rising like factory chimneys to an almost insane
height. Their special poise and position made one
block of buildings especially look like a Tower of
Babel with a hundred eyes. Syme had never seen
any of the sky-scraping buildings in America, so
he could only think of the buildings in a dream.
Even as he stared, the highest light in this innu-
merably lighted turret abruptly went out, as if this
black Argus had winked at him with one of his in-
THE PROFESSOR EXPLAINS 125
Professor dc Worms swung round on his heel,
and struck his stick against his boot.
" We are too late," he said, " the hygienic Doctor
has gone to bed."
" What do you mean ? " asked Symc. " Does he
hvc over there, then ? "
" Yes," said de Worms, " behind that particular
window which you can't sec. Come along and get
some dinner. We must call on him to-morrow
Without further parley, he led the way through
several by-ways until they came out into the flare
and clamour of the East India Dock Road. The
Professor, who seemed to know his way about the
neighbourhood, proceeded to a place where the line
of lighted shops fell back into a sort of abrupt
twilight and quiet, in which an old white inn, all
out of repair, stood back some twenty feet from the
" You can find good English inns left by accident
everywhere, like fossils," explained the Professor.
" I once found a decent place in the West End."
" I suppose," said Syme, smiling, " that this is the
corresponding decent place in the East End? "
" It is," said the Professor reverently, and went in.
In that place they dined and slept, both very
126 THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
thoroughly. The beans and bacon, which these un-
accountable people cooked well, the astonishing
emergence of Burgundy from their cellars, crowned
Syme's sense of a new comradeship and comfort.
Through all this ordeal his root horror had been
isolation, and there are no words to express the
abyss between isolation and having one ally. It
may be conceded to the mathematicians that four is
twice two. But two is not twice one ; two is two
thousand times one. That is why, in spite of a
hundred disadvantages, the world will always return
Syme was able to pour out for the first time the
whole of his outrageous tale, from the time when
Gregory had taken him to the little tavern by the
river. He did it idly and amply, in a luxuriant
monologue, as a man speaks with very old friends.
On his side, also, the man who had impersonated
Professor de Worms was not less communicative.
His own story was almost as silly as Syme's.
" That's a good get-up of yours," said Syme,
draining a glass of Macon; " a lot better than old
Gogol's. Even at the start I thought he was a bit
" A difference of artistic theory," replied the
Professor pensively. " Gogol was an idealist. He
THE PROFESSOR EXPLAINS 127
made up as the abstract or platonic ideal of an
anarchist. But I am a rcaHst. I am a portrait
painter. But, indeed, to say that I am a portrait
painter is an inadequate expression. I am a
" I don't understand you," said Syme.
" I am a portrait," repeated the Professor. " I
am a portrait of the celebrated Professor de Worms,
who is, I believe, in Naples."
" You mean you are made up like him," said
Syme. " But doesn't he know that you are taking
his nose in vain ? "
" He knows it right enough," replied his friend
" Then why doesn't he denounce you ? "
" I have denounced him," answered the Professor.
" Do explain yourself," said Syme.
" With pleasure, if you don't mind hearing my
story," replied the eminent foreign philosopher. " I
am by profession an actor, and my name is Wilks.
When I was on the stage I mixed with all sorts of
Bohemian and blackguard company. Sometimes I
touched the edge of the turf, sometimes the riflTraff
of the arts, and occasionally the political refugee.
In some den of exiled dreamers I was introduced to
the great German Nihilist philosopher. Professor de
128 THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
Worms. I did not gather much about him beyond
his appearance, which was very disgusting, and
which I studied carefully. I understood that he
had proved that the destructive principle in the
universe was God ; hence he insisted on the need
for a furious and incessant energy, rending all
things in pieces. Energy, he said, was the All.
He was lame, short-sighted, and partially paralytic.
When I met him I was in a frivolous mood, and I
disliked him so much that I resolved to imitate him.
If I had been a draughtsman I would have drawn a
caricature. I was only an actor, I could only act a
caricature. I made myself up into what was meant
for a wild exaggeration of the old Professor's dirty
old self. When I went into the room full of his
supporters I expected to be received with a roar of
laughter, or (if they were too far gone) with a roar
of indignation at the insult. I cannot describe the
surprise I felt when my entrance was received with
a respectful silence, followed (when I had first
opened my lips) with a murmur of admiration.
The curse of the perfect artist had fallen upon me.
I had been too subtle, I had been too true. They
thought I really was the great Nihilist Professor. I
was a healthy-minded young man at the time, and
I confess that it was a blow. Before I could fully
THE PROFESSOR EXPLAINS 129
recover, however, two or three of these admirers
ran up to me radiating indignation, and told me that
a public insult had been put upon me in the next
room. I inquired its nature. It seemed that an
impertinent fellow had dressed himself up as a pre-
posterous parody of myself. I had drunk more
champagne than was good for me, and in a flash of
folly I decided to see the situation through. Con-
sequently it was to meet the glare of the company
and my own lifted eyebrows and freezing eyes that
the real Professor came into the room.
" I need hardly say there was a collision. The
pessimists all round me looked anxiously from one
Professor to the other Professor to see which was
really the more feeble. But I won. An old man
in poor health, like my rival, could not be expected
to be so impressively feeble as a young actor in the
prime of life. You see, he really had paralysis, and
working within this definite limitation, he couldn't
be so jolly paralj'tic as I was. Then he tried to
blast my claims intellectually. I countered that by
a very simple dodge. Whenever he said something
that nobody but he could understand, I replied with
something which I could not even understand my-
self. ' I don't fancy,' he said, ' that )'Ou could have
worked out the principle that evolution is only nc-
I30 THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
gation, since there inheres in it the introduction of
lacunae, which are an essential of differentiation.' I
rephed quite scornfully, * You read all that up in
Pinckwerts; the notion that involution functioned
eugenically was exposed long ago by Glumpe.' It
is unnecessary for me to say that there never were
such people as Pinckwerts and Glumpe. But the
people all round (rather to my surprise) seemed to
remember them quite well, and the Professor, find-
ing that the learned and mysterious method left him
rather at the mercy of an enemy slightly deficient
in scruples, fell back upon a more popular form of
wit. • I see,' he sneered, * you prevail like the false
pig in yEsop.' ' And you fail,' I answered, smiHng,
' like the hedgehog in Montaigne.' Need I say that
there is no hedgehog in Montaigne ? * Your clap-
trap comes off,' he said ; * so would your beard.' I
had no intelligent answer to this, which was quite
true and rather witty. But I laughed heartily, an-
swered, ' Like the Pantheist's boots,' at random,
and turned on my heel with all the honours
of victory. The real Professor was thrown out,
but not with violence, though one man tried very
patiently to pull off his nose. He is now, I be-
lieve, received everywhere in Europe as a de-
lightful impostor. His apparent earnestness and
THE PROFESSOR EXI'LAINS 131
anger you sec, make him all the more enter-
" Well," said Syme, " I can understand your put-
ting on his dirty old beard for a night's practical
joke, but I don't understand your never taking it
" That is the rest of the story," said the imper-
sonator. " When I myself left the company, fol-
lowed by reverent applause, I went limping down
the dark street, hoping that I should soon be far
enough away to be able to walk like a human being.
To my astonishment, as I was turning the corner,
I felt a touch on the shoulder, and turning, found
myself under the shadow of an enormous policeman.
He told me I was wanted. I struck a sort of para-
lytic attitude, and cried in a high German accent,
• Yes, I am wanted — by the oppressed of tlic world.
You are arresting me on the charge of being the
great anarchist, Professor de Worms.' The police-
man impassively consulted a paper in his hand.
* No, sir,' he said civilly, • at lea.st, not exactly, sir.
I am arresting you on the charge of not being the
celebrated anarchist, Professor de Worms.' This
charge, if it was criminal at all, was certainly the
lighter of the two, and I went along with the man,
doubtful, but not greatly dismayed. I was shown
132 THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
into a number of rooms, and eventually into the
presence of a police officer, who explained that a
serious campaign had been opened against the cen-
tres of anarchy, and that this, my successful masquer-
ade, might be of considerable value to the public
safety. He offered me a good salary and this little
blue card. Though our conversation was short, he
struck me as a man of very massive common sense
and humour ; but I cannot tell you much about him
personally, because "
Syme laid down his knife and fork.
" I know," he said, " because you talked to him
in a dark room."
Professor de Worms nodded and drained his
THE MAN IN SPECTACLES
" Burgundy is a jolly thing," said tlie Professor
sadly, as he set his glass down.
" You don't look as if it were," said Symc ; " you
drink it as if it were medicine."
" You must excuse my manner," said the Professor
dismally, " my position is rather a curious one.
Inside I am really bursting with boyish merriment;
but I acted the paralytic Professor so well, that now
I can't leave off. So that when I am among friends,
and have no need at all to disguise myself, I still
can't help speaking slow and wrinkling my forehead
— ^just as if it were my forehead. I can be quite
happy, you understand, but only in a paralytic sort
of way. The most buoyant exclamations leap up in
my heart, but they come out of my mouth (}uite
different. You should hear me say, ' Puck up, old
cock ! ' it would bring tears to your eyes."
" It docs," said Syme ; " but I cannot help think-
ing that apart from all that you are really a bit
THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
The Professor started a little and looked at him
" You are a very clever fellow," he said, " it is a
pleasure to work with you. Yes, I have rather a
heavy cloud in my head. There is a great problem
to face," and he sank his bald brow in his two hands.
Then he said in a low voice —
" Can you play the piano ? "
" Yes," said Syme in simple wonder, " I'm sup-
posed to have a good touch."
Then, as the other did not speak, he added —
" I trust the great cloud is hfted."
After a long silence, the Professor said out of the
cavernous shadow of his hands —
" It would have done just as well if you could
work a typewriter,"
" Thank you," said Syme, " you flatter me."
" Listen to me," said the other, " and remember
whom we have to see to-morrow. You and I are
going to-morrow to attempt something which is very
much more dangerous than trying to steal the Crown
Jewels out of the Tower. We are trying to steal a
secret from a very sharp, very strong, and very
wicked man. I believe there is no man, except the
President, of course, who is so seriously startling and
formidable as that little grinning fellow in goggles.
THE MAN IN SPECTACLES 135
He has not perhaps the white-hot enthusiasm unto
death, the mad martyrdom for anarchy, which marks
the Secretary. But then that very fanaticism in
the Secretary has a human pathos, and is almost a
redeeming trait. But the Uttle Doctor has a brutal
sanity that is more shocking than the Secretary's
disease. Don't you notice his detestable virility
and vitality. He bounces like an india-rubber ball.
Depend on it, Sunday was not asleep (I wonder if
he ever sleeps ?) when he locked up all the plans of
this outrage in the round, black head of Dr. Bull,"
" And you think," said Syme, '• that this unique
monster will be soothed if I play the piano to him ? "
" Don't be an ass," said his mentor. " I men-
tioned the piano because it gives one quick and
independent fingers. Syme, if we are to go through
this interview and come out sane or alive, we must
have some code of signals between us that this brute
will not see. I have made a rough alphabetical
cypher corresponding to the five fingers — like this,
see," and he rippled with his fingers on the wooden
table — " BAD, bad, a word we may frequently
Syme poured himself out another glass of wine,
and began to study the scheme. He was abnormally
quick with his brains at puzzles, and with his hands
136 THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
at conjuring, and it did not take him long to learn
how he might convey simple messages by what
would seem to be idle taps upon a table or knee.
But wine and companionship had always the effect
of inspiring him to a farcical ingenuity, and the
Professor soon found himself struggling with the
too vast energy of the new language, as it passed
through the heated brain of Syme.
" We must have several word-signs," said Syme
seriously — '* words that we are likely to want, fine
shades of meaning. My favourite word is ' coeval.'
What's yours ? "
" Do stop playing the goat," said the Professor
plaintively. " You don't know how serious this is."
" ' Lush,' too," said Syme, shaking his head
sagaciously, " we must have * lush,' — word applied
to grass, don't you know ? "
" Do you imagine," asked the Professor furiously,
" that we are going to talk to Dr. Bull about grass ?"
" There are several ways in which the subject
could be approached," said Syme reflectively, " and
the word introduced without appearing forced. We
might say, ' Dr. Bull, as a revolutionist, you remem-
ber that a tyrant once advised us to eat grass ; and
indeed many of us, looking on the fresh lush grass
of summer ' "
THE MAN IN SPECTACLES 137
" Do you understand," said the other, " that this
is a tragedy ? "
" Perfectly," repHed Syme ; " always be comic in
a tragedy. What the deuce else can you do ? I
wish this language of yours had a wider scope.
I suppose we could not extend it from the fingers
to the toes ? That would involve pulling off our
boots and socks during the conversation, which
however unobtrusively performed "
" Syme," said his friend with a stern simplicity,
" go to bed ! "
Syme, however, sat up in bed for a considerable
time mastering the new code. He was awakened
next morning while the east was still sealed with
darkness, and found his grey-bearded ally standing
like a ghost beside his bed.
Syme sat up in bed blinking ; then slowly collected
his thoughts, threw ofif the bedclothes, and stood
up. It seemed to him in some curious way that all
the safety and sociability of the night before fell with
the bedclothes off him, and he stood up in an air of
cold danger. He still felt an entire trust and loyalty
towards his companion ; but it was the trust between
two men going to the scaffold.
" Well," said Syme with a forced cheerfulness as
he pulled on his trousers, " I dreamt of that al-
138 THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
phabet of yours. Did it take you long to make it
The Professor made no answer, but gazed in front
of him with eyes the colour of a wintry sea ; so
Syme repeated his question.
" I say, did it take you long to invent all this ?
I'm considered good at these things, and it was a
good hour's grind. Did you learn it all on the
spot ? "
The Professor was silent; his eyes were wide
open, and he wore a fixed but very small smile.
" How long did it take you ? "
The Professor did not move.
" Confound you, can't you answer ? " called out
Syme, in a sudden anger that had something like
fear underneath. Whether or no the Professor
could answer, he did not.
Syme stood staring back at the stiff face like
parchment and the blank, blue eyes. His first
thought was that the Professor had gone mad, but
his second thought was more frightful. After all,
what did he know about this queer creature whom
he had heedlessly accepted as a friend ? What did
he know, except that the man had been at the
anarchist breakfast and had told him a ridiculous
tale ? How improbable it was that there should be
THE MAN IN SPECTACLES 139
another friend there beside Gogol ! Was this man's
silence a sensational way of declaring war ? Was
this adamantine stare after all only the awful sneer
of some threefold traitor, who had turned for the
last time ? He stood and strained his ears in this
heartless silence. He almost fancied he could hear
dynamiters come to capture him shifting softly in
the corridor outside.
Then his eye strayed downwards, and he burst
out laughing. Though the Professor himself stood
there as voiceless as a statue, his five dumb fingers
were dancing alive upon the dead table. Syme
watched the twinkling movements of the talking
hand, and read clearly the message —
" I will only talk like this. We must get used to
He rapped out the answer with the impatience of
" All right. Let's get out to breakfast."
They took their hats and sticks in silence ; but as
Syme took his sword-stick, he held it hard.
They paused for a few minutes only to stuff down
coffee and coarse thick sandwiches at a coffee stall,
and then made their way across the river, which
under the grey and growing light looked as desolate
as Acheron. They reached the bottom of the huge
I40 THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
block of buildings which they had seen from across
the river, and began in silence to mount the naked
and numberless stone steps, only pausing now and
then to make short remarks on the rail of the
banisters. At about every other flight they passed
a window ; each window showed them a pale and
tragic dawn lifting itself laboriously over London.
From each the innumerable roofs of slate looked
like the leaden surges of a grey, troubled sea after
rain. Syme was increasingly conscious that his new
adventure had somehow a quality of cold sanity
worse than the wild adventures of the past. Last
night, for instance, the tall tenements had seemed to
him like a tower in a dream. As he now went up
the weary and perpetual steps, he was daunted and
bewildered by their almost infinite series. But it
was not the hot horror of a dream or of anything
that might be exaggeration or delusion. Their in-
finity was more like the empty infinity of arithmetic,
something unthinkable, yet necessary to thought.
Or it was like the stunning statements of astronomy
about the distance of the fixed stars. He was as-
cending the house of reason, a thing more hideous
than unreason itself
By the time they reached Dr. Bull's landing, a last
window showed them a harsh, white dawn edged
THE MAN IN SPECTACLES 141
with banks of a kind of coarse red, more like red
clay than red cloud. And when they entered Dr.
Bull's bare garret it was full of light.
Syme had been haunted by a half historic memory
in connection with these empty rooms and that
austere daybreak. The moment he saw the garret
and Dr. Bull sitting writing at a table, he remem-
bered what the memory was — the French Revolu-
tion. There should have been the black outline of
a guillotine against that heavy red and white of the
morning. Dr. Bull was in his white shirt and black
breeches only ; his cropped, dark head might well
have just come out of its wig ; he might have been
Marat or a more slipshod Robespierre.
Yet when he was seen properly, the French fancy
fell away. The Jacobins were idealists ; there was
about this man a murderous materialism. His
position gave him a somewhat new appearance.
The strong, white light of morning coming from one
side creating sharp shadows, made him seem both
more pale and more angular than he had looked at
the breakfast on the balcony. Thus the two black
glasses that encased his eyes might really have been
black cavities in his skull, making him look like a
death's-head. And indeed, if ever Death himself sat
writing at a wooden table, it might have been he.
142 THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
He looked up and smiled brightly enough as the
men came in, and rose with the resilient rapidity of
which the Professor had spoken. He set chairs for
both of them, and going to a peg behind the door,
proceeded to put on a coat and waistcoat of rough,
dark tweed; he buttoned it up neatly, and came
back to sit down at his table.
The quiet good humour of his manner left his
two opponents helpless. It was with some mo-
mentary difificulty that the Professor broke silence
and began, " I'm sorry to disturb you so early,
comrade," said he, with a careful resumption of the
slow de Worms manner. " You have no doubt
made all the arrangements for the Paris affair ? "
Then he added with infinite slowness, •' We have
information which renders intolerable anything in
the nature of a moment's delay."
Dr. Bull smiled again, but continued to gaze on
them without speaking. The Professor resumed, a
pause before each weary word —
" Please do not think me excessively abrupt ; but
I advise you to alter those plans, or if it is too late
for that, to follow your agent with all the support
you can get for him. Comrade Syme and I have
had an experience which it would take more time
to recount than we can afford, if we are to act on it.
THE MAN IN SPECTACLES 143
I will, however, relate the occurrence in detail, even
at the risk of losing time, if you really feel that it
is essential to the understanding of tlic problem wc
have to discuss."
He was spinning out his sentences, making them
intolerably long and lingering, in the hope of mad-
dening the practical little Doctor into an explosion
of impatience which might show his hand. But
the little Doctor continued only to stare and smile,
and the monologue was uphill work. Syme began
to feel a new sickness and despair. The Doctor's
smile and silence were not at all like the cataleptic
stare and horrible silence which he had confronted
in the Professor half an hour before. About the
Professor's make-up and all his antics there was
always something merely grotesque, like a golly-
wog. Syme remembered those wild woes of
yesterday as one remembers being afraid of Bogy
in childhood. But here was daylight: here was a
healthy, square-shouldered man in tweeds, not odd
save for the accident of his ugly spectacles, not
glaring or grinning at all, but smiling steadily and
not saying a word. The whole had a sense of un-
bearable reality. Under the increasing sunlight
the colours of the Doctor's complexion, the
pattern of his tweeds, grew and expanded out-
144 THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
rageously, as such things grow too important in
a reahstic novel. But his smile was quite slight,
the pose of his head pohte; the only uncanny
thing was his silence.
" As I say," resumed the Professor, like a man
toiling through heavy sand, " the incident that has
occurred to us and has led us to ask for informa-
tion about the Marquis, is one which you may
think it better to have narrated; but as it came
in the way of Comrade Syme rather than me "
His words he seemed to be dragging out like
words in an anthem ; but Syme, who was watching,
saw his long fingers rattle quickly on the edge of
the crazy table. He read the message, " You must
go on. This devil has sucked me dry ! "
Syme plunged into the breach with that bravado
of improvisation which always came to him when
he was alarmed.
" Yes, the thing really happened to me," he said
hastily. " I had the good fortune to fall into con-
versation with a detective who took me, thanks to
my hat, for a respectable person. Wishing to clinch
my reputation for respectability, I took him and
made him very drunk at the Savoy. Under this
influence he became friendly, and told me in so
many words that within a day or two they hope to
THE MAN IN SPECTACLES 145
arrest the Marquis in France. So unless you or I
can get on his track "
The Doctor was still smiling in the most friendly-
way, and his protected eyes were still impenetrable.
The Professor signalled to Syme that he would re-
sume his explanation, and he began again with the
same elaborate calm.
" Syme immediately brought this information to
me, and we came here together to see what use you
would be inclined to make of it. It seems to me
unquestionably urgent that "
All this time Syme had been staring at the
Doctor almost as steadily as the Doctor stared at
the Professor, but quite without the smile. The
nerves of both comrades-in-arms were near snap-
ping under that strain of motionless amiability,
when Syme suddenly leant forward and idly tapped
the edge of the table. His message to his ally ran,
" I have an intuition."
The Professor, with scarcely a pause in his mono-
logue, signalled back, " Then sit on it."
Syme telegraphed, " It is quite extraordinary."
The other answered, " Extraordinary rot ! "
Syme said, " I am a poet."
The other retorted, " You are a dead man."
Syme had gone quite red up to his j-cllow hair,
146 THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
and his eyes were burning feverishly. As he said,
he had an intuition, and it had risen to a sort of
hght-headed certainty. Resuming his symboHc
taps, he signalled to his friend, " You scarcely realise
how poetic my intuition is. It has that sudden
quality we sometimes feel in the coming of spring."
He then studied the answer on his friend's fingers.
The answer was, " Go to hell ! "
The Professor then resumed his merely verbal
monologue addressed to the Doctor.
** Perhaps I should rather say," said Syme on his
fingers, " that it resembles that sudden smell of the
sea which may be found in the heart of lush woods."
His companion disdained to reply.
" Or yet again," tapped Syme, " it is positive, as
is the passionate red hair of a beautiful woman."
The Professor was continuing his speech, but in
the middle of it Syme decided to act. He leant
across the table, and said in a voice that could not
be neglected —
" Dr. Bull ! "
The Doctor's sleek and smiling head did not
move, but they could have sworn that under his
dark glasses his eyes darted towards Syme.
" Dr. Bull," said Syme, in a voice peculiarly
precise and courteous, " would you do me a small
THE MAN IN SPECTACLES 147
favour? Would you be so kind as to take off your
spectacles ? "
The Professor swung round on his scat, and stared
at Syme with a sort of frozen fury of astonishment.
Syme, like a man who has thrown his life and for-
tune on the table, leaned forward with a fiery face.
The Doctor did not move.
For a few seconds there was a silence in which
one could hear a pin dro[), split once by the single
hoot of a distant steamer on the Thames. Then
Dr. Bull rose slowly, still smiling, and took off his
Syme sprang to his feet, stepping backwards a
little, like a chemical lecturer from a successful ex-
plosion. His eyes were like stars, and for an instant
he could only point without speaking.
The Professor had also started to his feet, forget-
ful of his supposed paralysis. I Ic leant on the back
of the chair and stared doubtfully at Dr. Hull, as if
the Doctor had been turned into a toad before his
eyes. And indeed it was almost as great a trans-
The two detectives saw sitting in the chair before
them a vcr)- boyish-looking young man, with very
frank and happy ha7:el eyes, an open expression,
cockney clothes like those of a city clerk, and an
148 THE MAN^WHO WAS THURSDAY
unquestionable breath about him of being very
good and rather commonplace. The smile was
still there, but it might have been the first smile of
" I knew I was a poet," cried Syme in a sort of
ecstasy. " I knew my intuition was as infallible as
the Pope. It was the spectacles that did it ! It was
all the spectacles ! Given those beastly black eyes,
and all the rest of him, his health and his jolly looks,
made him a live devil among dead ones."
" It certainly does make a queer difference," said
the Professor shakily. " But as regards the project
of Dr. Bull "
" Project be damned ! " roared Syme, beside him-
self. " Look at him ! Look at his face, look at his
collar, look at his blessed boots ! You don't sup-
pose, do you, that that thing's an anarchist ? "
" Syme ! " cried the other in an apprehensive
" Why, by God," said Syme, " I'll take the risk
of that myself! Dr. Bull, I am a police officer.
There's my card," and he flung down the blue card
upon the table.
The Professor still feared that all was lost; but he
was loyal. He pulled out his own official card and
put it beside his friend's. Then the third man burst
THE MAN IN SPECTACLES 149
out laughing, and for the first time that morning
they heard his voice.
" I'm awfully glad you chaps have come so early,"
he said, with a sort of schoolboy flippancy, " for we
can all start for France together. Yes, I'm in the
force right enough," and he flicked a blue card
towards them lightly as a matter of form.
Clapping a brisk bowler on his head and resuming
his goblin glasses, the Doctor moved so quickly
towards the door, that the others instinctively fol-
lowed him. Syme seemed a little distrait, and as
he passed under the doorway he suddenly struck his
stick on the stone passage so that it rang.
" But Lord God Almighty," he cried out, " if this
is all right, there were more damned detectives than
there were damned dynamiters at the damned
Council ! "
" We might have fought easily," said Bull ; " we
were four against three."
The Professor was descending the stairs, but his
voice came up from below,
" No," said the voice, " we were not four against
three — we were not so lucky. We were four
The others went down the stairs in silence.
The young man called Bull, with an innocent
150 THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
courtesy characteristic of him, insisted on going last
until they reached the street; but there his own
robust rapidity asserted itself unconsciously, and he
walked quickly on ahead towards a railway inquiry
office, talking to the others over his shoulder.
" It is jolly to get some pals," he said. " I've
been half dead with the jumps, being quite alone.
I nearly flung my arms round Gogol and embraced
him, which would have been imprudent. I hope
you won't despise me for having been in a blue
" All the blue devils in blue hell," said Syme,
" contributed to my blue funk ! But the worst
devil was you and your infernal goggles."
The young man laughed delightedly.
" Wasn't it a rag ? " he said. " Such a simple
idea — not my own. I haven't got the brains. You
see, I wanted to go into the detective service, espe-
cially the anti-dynamite business. But for that
purpose they wanted some one to dress up as a
dynamiter ; and they all swore by blazes that I
could never look like a dynamiter. They said my
very walk was respectable, and that seen from
behind I looked like the British Constitution.
They said I looked too healthy and too optimistic,
and too reliable and benevolent ; they called me all
THE MAN IN SPECTACLES 151
sorts of names at Scotland Yard. They said that if
I had been a criminal, I might have made my
fortune by looking so like an honest man ; but as I
had the misfortune to be an honest man, there was
not even the remotest chance of my assisting them
by ever looking hke a criminal. But at last I was
brought before some old josser who was high up in
the force, and who seemed to have no end of a
head on his shoulders. And there the others all
talked hopelessly. One asked whether a bushy
beard would hide my nice smile ; another said that
if they blacked my face I might look like a negro
anarchist ; but this old chap chipped in with a most
extraordinary remark, * A pair of smoked spec-
tacles will do it,' he said positively, ' Look at him
now; he looks like an angelic office boy. Put him
on a pair of smoked spectacles, and children will
scream at the sight of him.' And so it was, by
George ! When once my eyes were covered all the
rest, smile and big shoulders and short hair, made
me look a perfect little devil. As I say, it was
simple enough when it was done, like miracles ; but
that wasn't the really miraculous part of it. There
was one really staggering thing about the business,
and my head still turns at it."
" What was that ? " asked Syme.
152 THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
" I'll tell you," answered the man in spectacles.
*' This big pot in the police who sized me up so that
he knew how the goggles would go with my hair
and socks — by God, he never saw me at all ! "
Syme's eyes suddenly flashed on him.
" How was that ? " he asked. " I thought you
talked to him."
" So I did," said Bull brightly ; " but we talked
in a pitch-dark room like a coal cellar. There, you
would never have guessed that."
" I could not have conceived it," said Syme
" It is indeed a new idea," said the Professor.
Their new ally was in practical matters a whirl-
wind. At the inquiry office he asked with business-
like brevity about the trains for Dover. Having got
his information, he bundled the company into a cab,
and put them and himself inside a railway carriage
before they had properly realised the breathless
process. They were already on the Calais boat
before conversation flowed freely.
" I had already arranged," he explained, " to go
to France for my lunch ; but I am delighted to have
some one to lunch with me. You see, I had to
send that beast, the Marquis, over with his bomb,
because the President had his eye on me, though
' THE MAN IN SPECTACLES 153
God knows how. I'll tell you the stury some day.
It was perfectly choking. Whenever I tried tu slip
out of it I saw the President somewhere, smiling
out of the bow-window of a club or taking off
his hat to me from the top of an omnibus. I
tell you, you can say what you like, that fellow
sold himself to the devil ; he can be in six places at
" So you sent the Marquis off, I understand,"
asked the Professor. " Was it long ago ? Shall
we be in time to catch him ? "
" Yes," answered the new guide, " I've timed it
all. He'll still be at Calais when we arrive."
" But when we do catch him at Calais," said the
Professor, " what are we going to do ? "
At this question the countenance of Dr. Bull
fell for the first time. He reflected a little, and
then said — ■
" Theoretically, I suppose, we ought to call the
" Not I," said Syme. " Theoretically I ought to
drown myself first. I promised a poor fellow, who
was a real modern pessimist, on my word of honour
not to tell the police. I'm no hand at casuistry, but
I can't break my word to a modern pessimist. It's
like breaking one's word to a child."
154 THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
" I'm in the same boat," said the Professor. " I
tried to tell the police and I couldn't, because of
some silly oath I took. You see, when I was an
actor I was a sort of all-round beast. Perjury or
treason is the only crime I haven't committed. If I
did that I shouldn't know the difference between
right and wrong."
" I've been through all that," said Dr. Bull, " and
I've made up my mind. I gave my promise to the
Secretary — you know him, man who smiles upside
down. My friends, that man is the most utterly
unhappy man that was ever human. It may be his
digestion, or his conscience, or his nerves, or his
philosophy of the universe, but he's damned, he's in
hell ! Well, I can't turn on a man like that, and
hunt him down. It's like whipping a leper. I may
be mad, but that's how I feel ; and there's jolly well
the end of it."
" I don't think you're mad," said Syme. " I knew
you would decide like that when first you "
" Eh ? " said Dr. Bull.
" When first you took off your spectacles."
Dr. Bull smiled a httle, and strolled across the
deck to look at the sunlit sea. Then he strolled
back again, kicking his heels carelessly, and a com-
panionable silence fell between the three men.
THE MAN IN SPECTACLES 155
" Well," said Symc, " it seems that we have all
the same kind of morality or immorality, so we had
better face the fact that comes of it."
" Yes," assented the Professor, " you're quite right ;
and we must hurry up, for I can see the Grey Nose
standing out from France."
" The fact that comes of it," said Syme seriously,
" is this, that we three are alone on this planet.
Gogol has gone, God knows where; perhaps the
President has smashed him like a fly. On the
Council we are three men against three, like the
Romans who held the bridge. But we are worse
off than that, first because they can appeal to their
organisation and we cannot appeal to ours, and sec-
ond because "
" Because one of those other three men," said the
Professor, " is not a man."
Syme nodded and was silent for a second or two,
then he said —
" My idea is this. We must do something to
keep the Marquis in Calais till to-morrow midday.
I have turned over twenty schemes in my head.
We cannot denounce him as a dynamiter; that is
agreed. We cannot get him detained on some
trivial charge, for we should have to appear ; he
knows us, and he would smell a rat. We cannot
156 THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
pretend to keep him on anarchist business ; he might
swallow much in that way, but not the notion of
stopping in Calais while the Czar went safely through
Paris. We might try to kidnap him, and lock him
up ourselves ; but he is a well-known man here.
He has a whole body-guard of friends ; he is very
strong and brave, and the event is doubtful. The
only thing I can see to do is actually to take ad-
vantage of the very things that are in the Marquis's
favour. I am going to profit by the fact that he is
a highly respected nobleman. I am going to profit
by the fact that he has many friends and moves in
the best society."
" What the devil are you talking about ? " asked
" The Symes are first mentioned in the fourteenth
century," said Syme ; " but there is a tradition that
one of them rode behind Bruce at Bannockburn.
Since 1350 the tree is quite clear."
" He's gone off his head," said the little Doctor,
" Our bearings," continued Syme calmly, " are
' argent a chevron gules charged with three cross
crosslets of the field.' The motto varies."
The Professor seized Syme roughly by the waist-
THE MAN IN SPECTACLES 157
" We arc just inshore," he said. " Arc you sea-
sick or joking in the wrong place ? "
" My remarks are almost painfully practical,"
answered Syme, in an unhurried manner. " The
house of St. Eustache also is very ancient. The
Marquis cannot deny that he is a gentleman. He
cannot deny that I am a gentleman. And in order
to put the matter of my social position quite beyond
a doubt, I propose at the earliest opportunity to
knock his hat off. But here we are in the harbour."
They went on shore under the strong sun in a
501 1 of daze. Syme, who had now taken the lead
fls Bull had taken it in London, led them along a
kind of marine parade until he came to some cafes,
embowered in a bulk of greenery and overlooking
the sea. As he went before them his step was
slightly swaggering, and he swung his stick like a
sword. He was making apparently for the extreme
end of the line of cafes, but he stopped abruptly.
With a sharp gesture he motioned them to silence,
but he pointed with one gloved finger to a cafe
table under a bank of flowering foliage at which sat
the Marquis dc St. Eustache, his teeth shining in
his thick, black beard, and his bold, brown face
shadowed ^y a light yellow straw hat and outlined
against the violet sea.
Syme sat down at a cafe table with his com-
panions, his blue eyes sparkling like the bright sea
below, and ordered a bottle of Saumur with a
pleased impatience. He was for some reason in a
condition of curious hilarity. His spirits were al-
ready unnaturally high ; they rose as the Saumur
sank, and in half an hour his talk was a torrent of
nonsense. He professed to be making out a plan
of the conversation which was going to ensue be-
tween himself and the deadly Marquis. He jotted
it down wildly with a pencil. It was arranged like
a printed catechism, with questions and answers,
and was delivered with an extraordinary rapidity
" I shall approach. Before taking off his hat, I
shall take off my own. I shall say, * The Marquis
de Saint Eustache, I believe.' He will say, * The
celebrated Mr, Syme, I presume.' He will say in
the most exquisite French, 'How are you?' I
shall reply in the most exquisite Cockney, * Oh,
just the Syme ' "
THE DUEL 159
"Oh, shut it!" said the man in spectacles.
" Pull yourself together, and chuck away that bit
of paper. What are you really going to do ? "
" But it was a lovely catechism," said Syme
pathetically. " Do let me read it you. It has only
forty-three questions and answers, and some of the
Marquis's answers are wonderfully witty. I like to
be just to my enemy."
" But what's the good of it all ? " asked Dr. Bull
" It leads up to my challenge, don't you see,"
said Syme, beaming. " When the Marquis has
given the thirty-ninth reply, which runs "
" Has it by any chance occurred to you," asked
the Professor, with a ponderous simplicity, " that
the Marquis may not say all the forty-three things
you have put down for him ? In that case, I un-
derstand, your own epigrams may appear some-
what more forced."
Syme struck the table with a radiant face.
" Why, how true that is," he said, " and I
never thought of it. Sir, you have an in-
tellect beyond the common. You will make a
"Oh, you're as drunk as an owl!" said the
i6o THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
" It only remains," continued Syme quite unper-
turbed, " to adopt some other method of breaking
the ice (if I may so express it) between myself and
the man I wish to kill. And since the course of a
dialogue cannot be predicted by one of its parties
alone (as you have pointed out with such recondite
acumen), the only thing to be done, I suppose, is
for the one party, as far as possible, to do all the
dialogue by himself. And so I will, by George ! "
And he stood up suddenly, his yellow hair blowing
in the slight sea breeze.
A band was playing in a cafe chantant hidden
somewhere among the trees, and a woman had just
stopped singing. On Syme's heated head the bray
of the brass band seemed like the jar and jingle of
that barrel-organ in Leicester Square, to the tune
of which he had once stood up to die. He looked
across to the little table where the Marquis sat.
The man had two companions now, solemn French-
men in frock-coats and silk hats, one of them with
the red rosette of the Legion of Honour, evidently
people of a solid social position. Beside these
black, cylindrical costumes, the Marquis, in his
loose straw hat and light spring clothes, looked
Bohemian and even barbaric; but he looked the
Marquis. Indeed, one might say that he looked
THE DUEL i6i
the king, with his animal elegance, his scornful
eyes, and his proud head lifted against the purple
sea. But he was no Christian king, at any rate;
he was, rather, some swarthy despot, half Greek,
half Asiatic, who in the days when slavery seemed
natural looked down on the Mediterranean, on his
galley and his groaning slaves. Just so, Syme
thought, would the brown-gold face of such a
tyrant have shown against the dark green olives
and the burning blue.
" Are you going to address the meeting ? " asked
the Professor peevishly, seeing that Syme still stood
up without moving.
Syme drained his last glass of sparkling wine.
" I am," he said, pointing across to the Marquis
and his companions, " that meeting. That meeting
displeases me. I am going to pull that meeting's
great ugly, mahogany-coloured nose."
He stepped across swiftly, if not quite steadily.
The Marquis, seeing him, arched his black Assyrian
eyebrows in surprise, but smiled politely.
" You are Mr. Syme, I think," he said.
" And you are the Marquis dc Saint Eustache,"
he said gracefully. " Permit me to pull your
1 62 THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
He leant over to do so, but the Marquis started
backwards, upsetting his chair, and the two men in
top hats held Syme back by the shoulders.
" This man has insulted me ! " said Syme, with
gestures of explanation.
" Insulted you ? " cried the gentleman with the
red rosette, " when ? "
" Oh, just now," said Syme recklessly. " He
insulted my mother."
" Insulted your mother ! " exclaimed the gentle-
" Well, anyhow," said Syme, conceding a point,
" my aunt."
" But how can the Marquis have insulted your
aunt just now?" said the second gentleman with
some legitimate wonder. " He has been sitting here
all the time."
" Ah, it was what he said ! " said Syme darkly.
" I said nothing at all," said the Marquis, " except
something about the band. I only said that I hked
Wagner played well."
" It was an allusion to my family," said Syme
firmly. '• My aunt played Wagner badly. It was
a painful subject. We are always being insulted
" This seems most extraordinary," said the
THE DUEL 163
gentleman who was dicori, looking doubtfully at
" Oh, I assure you," said Syme earnestly, " the
whole of your conversation was simply packed with
sinister allusions to my aunt's weaknesses."
" This is nonsense ! " said the second gentleman.
" I for one have said nothing for half an hour except
that I liked the singing of that girl with black
♦' Well, there you are again ! " said Syme indig-
nantly. " My aunt's was red."
" It seems to me," said the other, " that you are
simply seeking a pretext to insult the Marquis."
" By George ! " said Syme, facing round and look-
ing at him, " what a clever chap you are ! "
The Marquis started up with eyes flaming like a
•' Seeking a quarrel with me ! " he cried. " Seek-
ing a fight witii me ! By God ! there was never a
man who had to seek long. These gentlemen will
perhaps act for me. There are still four hours of
daylight. Let us fight this evening."
Syme bowed with a quite beautiful gracious-
" Marquis," he said, " your action is worthy of
your fame and blood. Permit me to consult for a
i64 THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
moment with the gentlemen in whose hands I shall
In three long strides he rejoined his companions,
and they, who had seen his champagne-inspired
attack and listened to his idiotic explanations, were
quite startled at the look of him. For now that he
came back to them he was quite sober, a little pale,
and he spoke in a low voice of passionate practi-
" I have done it," he said hoarsely. " I have
fixed a fight on the beast. But look here, and listen
carefully. There is no time for talk. You are my
seconds, and everything must come from you.
Now you must insist, and insist absolutely, on the
duel coming off after seven to-morrow, so as to give
me the chance of preventing him from catching the
7.45 for Paris. If he misses that he misses his
crime. He can't refuse to meet you on such a small
point of time and place. But this is what he will do.
He will choose a field somewhere near a wayside
station, where he can pick up the train. He is a
very good swordsman, and he will trust to killing
me in time to 'catch it. But I can fence well too,
and I think I can keep him in play, at any rate,
until the train is lost. Then perhaps he may kill
me to console his feelings. You understand ?
THE DUEL 165
Very well then, let me introduce you to some
charming friends of mine," and leading them quickly
across the parade, he presented them to the
Marquis's seconds by two very aristocratic names
of which they had not previously heard.
Syme was subject to spasms of singular common
sense, not otherwise a part of his character. They
were (as he said of his impulse about the spectacles)
poetic intuitions, and they sometimes rose to the
exaltation of prophecy.
He had correctly calculated in this case the poHcy
of his opponent. When the Marquis was informed
by his seconds that Syme could only fight in the
morning, he must fully have realised that an ob-
stacle had suddenly arisen between him and his
bomb-throwing business in the capital. Naturally
he could not explain this objection to his friends, so
he chose the course which Syme had predicted.
He induced his seconds to settle on a small meadow
not far from the railway, and he trusted to the
fatality of the first engagement.
When he came down very coolly to the field of
honour, no one could have guessed that he had any
anxiety about a journey; his hands were in his
pockets, his straw hat on the back of his head, his
handsome face brazen in the sun. But it might
1 66 THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
have struck a stranger as odd that there appeared in
his train, not only his seconds carrying the sword-
case, but two of his servants carrying a portman-
teau and a luncheon basket.
Early as was the hour, the sun soaked everything
in warmth, and Syme was vaguely surprised to see
so many spring flowers burning gold and silver in
the tall grass in which the whole company stood
With the exception of the Marquis, all the men
were in sombre and solemn morning-dress, with
hats like black chimney-pots ; the little Doctor es-
pecially, with the addition of his black spectacles,
looked like an undertaker in a farce. Syme could
not help feeling a comic contrast between this fune-
real church parade of apparel and the rich and ghs-
tening meadow, growing wild flowers everywhere.
But, indeed, this comic contrast between the yellow
blossoms and the black hats was but a symbol of
the tragic contrast between the yellow blossoms and
the black business. On his right was a little wood ;
far away to his left lay the long curve of the rail-
way line, which he was, so to speak, guarding from
the Marquis, whose goal and escape it was. In
front of him, behind the black group of his oppo-
nents, he could see, like a tinted cloud, a small
THE DUEL 167
almond bush in flower against the faint Hne of the
The member of the Legion of Honour, whose
name it seemed was Colonel Ducroix, approached
the Professor and Dr. Bull with great politeness, and
suggested that the play should terminate witli tlie
first considerable hurt.
Dr. Bull, however, having been carefully coached
by Syme upon this point of policy, insisted, with
great dignity and in very bad I' rench, that it should
continue until one of the combatants was disabled.
Syme had made up his mind that he could avoid
disabling the Marquis and prevent the Marquis
from disabling him for at least twenty minutes.
In twenty minutes the Paris train would have
" To a man of the well-known skill and valour of
Monsieur de St. Eustache," said the Professor sol-
emnly, " it must be a matter of indifTcrencc which
method is adopted, and our principal has strong
reasons for demanding the longer encounter, reasons
the delicacy of which prevent me from being ex-
plicit, but for the just and honourable nature of
which I can "
" Pestc !" broke from the Marquis behind, whose
face had suddenly darkened, " let us stop talking
i68 THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
and begin," and he slashed off the head of a tall
flower with his stick.
Syme understood his rude impatience, and in-
stinctively looked over his shoulder to see whether
the train was coming in sight. But there was no
smoke on the horizon.
Colonel Ducroix knelt down and unlocked the
case, taking out a pair of twin swords, which took
the sunlight and turned to two streaks of white fire.
He offered one to the Marquis, who snatched it
without ceremony, and another to Syme, who took
it, bent it, and poised it with as much delay as was
consistent with dignity. Then the Colonel took out
another pair of blades, and taking one himself and
giving another to Dr. Bull, proceeded to place the
Both combatants had thrown off their coats and
waistcoats, and stood sword in hand. The seconds
stood on each side of the Hne of fight with drawn
swords also, but still sombre in their dark frock-
coats and hats. The principals saluted. The
Colonel said quietly, " Engage ! " and the two blades
touched and tingled.
When the jar of the joined iron ran up Syme's
arm, all the fantastic fears that have been the sub-
ject of this story fell from him like dreams from a
THE DUEL 169
man waking up in bed. He remembered them
clearly and in order as mere delusions of the nerves
— how the fear of the Professor had been the fear of
the tyrannic accidents of nightmare, and how the
fear of the Doctor had been the fear of the airless
vacuum of science. The first was the old fear that
any miracle might happen, the second the more
hopeless modern fear that no miracle can ever hap-
pen. But he saw that these fears were fancies, for
he found himself in the presence of the great fact
of the fear of death, with its coarse and pitiless com-
mon sense. He felt like a man who had dreamed
all night of falling over precipices, and had woke up
on the morning when he was to be hanged. For as
soon as he had seen the sunlight run down the chan-
nel of his foe's foreshortened blade, and as soon as
he had felt the two tongues of steel touch, vibrating
like two living things, he knew that his enemy was
a terrible fighter, and that probably his last hour
He felt a strange and vivid value in all the earth
around him, in the grass under his feet ; he felt the
love of life in all living things. He could almost
fancy that he heard the grass growing ; he could
almost fancy that even as he stood fresh flowers
were springing up and breaking into blossom in the
I70 THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
meadow — flowers blood-red and burning gold and
blue, fulfilling the whole pageant of the spring.
And whenever his eyes strayed for a flash from the
calm, staring, hypnotic eyes of the Marquis, they
saw the little tuft of almond tree against the sky-
line. He had the feeling that if by some miracle he
escaped he would be ready to sit forever before that
almond tree, desiring nothing else in the world.
But while earth and sky and everything had the
living beauty of a thing lost, the other half of his
head was as clear as glass, and he was parrying his
enemy's point with a kind of clockwork skill of
which he had hardly supposed himself capable.
Once his enemy's point ran along his wrist, leaving
a slight streak of blood, but it either was not noticed
or was tacitly ignored. Every now and then he
riposted, and once or twice he could almost fancy
that he felt his point go home, but as there was no
blood on blade or shirt he supposed he was mis-
taken. Then came an interruption and a change.
At the risk of losing all, the Marquis, interrupting
his quiet stare, flashed one glance over his shoulder
at the line of railway on his right. Then he turned
on Syme a face transfigured to that of a fiend, and
began to fight as if with twenty weapons. The
attack came so fast and furious, that the one shining
THE DUP:L 171
sword seemed a shower of shining arrows. Symc
had no chance to look at the railway ; but also he
had no need. He could guess the reason of the
Marquis's sudden madness of battle — the Paris train
was in sight.
But the Marquis's morbid energy overreached
itself. Twice Syme, parrying, knocked his oppo-
nent's point far out of the fighting circle ; and the
third time his riposte was so rapid, that there was
no doubt about the hit this time. Syme's sword
actually bent under the weight of the Marquis's
body, which it had pierced. Syme was as certain
that he had stuck his blade into his enemy as a
gardener that he has stuck his spade into the
ground. Yet the Marquis sprang back from the
stroke without a stagger, and Syme stood staring
at his own sword-point like an idiot. There was no
blood on it at all.
There was an instant of rigid silence, and then
Syme in his turn fell furiously on the other, filled
with a flaming curiosity. The Marquis was prob-
ably, in a general sense, a better fencer than he, as
he iiad surmised at the beginning, but at tiie mo-
ment the Marquis seemed distraught and at a dis-
advantage. He fought wildly and even weakly, and
he constantly looked away at the railway line, almost
172 THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
as if he feared the train more than the pointed steel
Syme, on the other hand, fought fiercely but still
carefully, in an intellectual fury, eager to solve the
riddle of his own bloodless sword. For this pur-
pose, he aimed less at the Marquis's body, and
more at his throat and head. A minute and a half
afterwards he felt his point enter the man's neck
below the jaw. It came out clean. Half mad, he
thrust again, and made what should have been a
bloody scar on the Marquis's cheek. But there was
For one moment the heaven of Syme again grew
black with supernatural terrors. Surely the man
had a charmed life. But this new spiritual dread
was a more awful thing than had been the mere
spiritual topsy-turvydom symbolised by the para-
lytic who pursued him. The Professor was only a
goblin ; this man was a devil — perhaps he was the
Devil ! Anyhow, this was certain, that three times
had a human sword been driven into him and made
no mark. When Syme had that thought he drew
himself up, and all that was good in him sang high
up in the air as a high wind sings in the trees. He
thought of all the human things in his story — of the
Chinese lanterns in Saffron Park, of the girl's red
hair in the garden, of the honest, beer-swilling
THE DUEL 173
sailors down by the dock, of his loyal companions
standing by. Perhaps he had been chosen as a
champion of all these fresh and kindly things to
cross swords with the enemy of all creation. " After
all," he said to himself, '• I am more than a devil ; I
am a man. I can do the one thing which Satan
himself cannot do — I can die," and as the word went
through his head, he heard a faint and far-off hoot,
which would soon be the roar of the Paris train.
He fell to fighting again with a supernatural
levity, like a Mohammedan panting for Paradise.
As the train came nearer and nearer he fancied he
could see people putting up the floral arches in
Paris; he joined in the growing noise and the glory
of the great Republic whose gate he was guarding
against Hell. His thoughts rose higher and higher
with the rising roar of the train, which ended, as if
proudly, in a long and piercing whistle. The train
Suddenly, to the astonishment of every one, the
Marquis sprang back quite out of sword reach and
threw down his sword. The leap was wonderful,
and not the less wonderful because Syme had
plunged his sword a moment before into the man's
" Stop ! " said the Marquis in a voice that com-
174 THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
pelled a momentary obedience. " I want to say
" What is the matter ? " asked Colonel Ducroix,
staring. " Has there been foul play ? "
" There has been foul play somewhere," said
Dr. Bull, who was a little pale. " Our principal
has wounded the Marquis four times at least, and
he is none the worse." j
The Marquis put up his hand with a curious air
of ghastly patience. |
" Please let me speak," he said. " It is rather
important. Mr. Syme," he continued, turning to
his opponent, " we are fighting to-day, if I remem-
ber right, because you expressed a wish (which I
thought irrational) to pull my nose. Would you
oblige me by pulling my nose now as quickly as
possible ? I have to catch a train."
" I protest that this is most irregular," said Dr.
" It is certainly somewhat opposed to precedent,"
said Colonel Ducroix, looking wistfully at his
principal. " There is, I think, one case on record
(Captain Bellegarde and the Baron Zumpt) in which
the weapons were changed in the middle of the en-
counter at the request of one of the combatants.
But one can hardly call one's nose a weapon."
THE DUEL 175
" Will you or will you not pull my nose ? " said
the Marquis in exasperation. " Come, come, Mr.
Syme ! You wanted to do it, do it ! You can have
no conception of how important it is to me.
Don't be so selfish ! Pull my nose at once, when
I ask you ! " and he bent slightly forward with a
fascinating smile. The Paris train, panting and
I groaning, had grated into a httle station behind the
i Syme had the feeling he had more than once had
in these adventures — the sense that a horrible and
sublime wave lifted to heaven was just toppling
over. Walking in a world he half understood, he
took two paces forward and seized the Roman nose
of this remarkable nobleman. He pulled it hard,
and it came off in his hand.
He stood for some seconds with a foolish
solemnity, with the pasteboard proboscis still be-
tween his fingers, looking at it, while the sun and
the clouds and the wooded hills looked down upon
this imbecile scene.
The Marquis broke the silence in a loud and
" If any one has any use for my left eyebrow,"
he said, " he can have it. Colonel Ducroix, do
accept my left eyebrow ! It's the kind of thing
176 THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
that might come in useful any day," and he gravely
tore off one of his swarthy Assyrian brows, bring-
ing about half his brown forehead with it, and
politely offered it to the Colonel, who stood crimson
and speechless with rage.
" If I had known," he spluttered, " that I was
acting for a poltroon who pads himself to
" Oh, I know, I know ! " said the Marquis, reck-
lessly throwing various parts of himself right and
left about the field. " You are making a mistake ;
but it can't be explained just now. I tell you the
train has come into the station ! "
" Yes," said Dr. Bull fiercely, " and the train
shall go out of the station. It shall go out with-
out you. We know well enough for what devil's
The mysterious Marquis lifted his hands with a
desperate gesture. He was a strange scarecrow,
standing there in the sun with half his old face
peeled off, and half another face glaring and grin-
ning from underneath.
" Will you drive me mad ? " he cried. " The
" You shall not go by the train," said Syme
firmly, and grasped his sword.
THE DUEL 177
The wild figure turned towards Syme, and
seemed to be gathering itself for a sublime effort
" You great fat, blasted, blear-eyed, blundering,
thundering, brainless, God-forsaken, doddering,
damned fool ! " he said without taking breath.
" You great silly, pink-faced, towheaded turnip !
" You shall not go by this train," repeated Syme.
«' And why the infernal blazes," roared the other,
" should I want to go by the train ? "
"We know all," said the Professor sternly.
•' You are going to Paris to throw a bomb ! "
" Going to Jericho to throw a Jabberwock ! "
cried the other, tearing his hair, which came off
easily. " Have you all got softening of the brain,
that you don't realise what I am? Did you really
think I wanted to catch that train ? Twenty Paris
trains might go by for me. Damn Paris trains ! "
" Then what did you care about ? " began the
"What did I care about? I didn't care about
catching the train ; I cared about whether the train
caught me, and now, by God ! it has caught me."
" I regret to inform you," said Syme with
restraint, " that your remarks convey no imprcs-
178 THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
sion to my mind. Perhaps if you were to remove
the remains of your original forehead and some
portion of what was once your chin, your meaning
would become clearer. Mental lucidity fulfils
itself in many ways. What do you mean by
saying that the train has caught you ? It may
be my literary fancy, but somehow I feel that it
ought to mean something."
" It means everything," said the other, " and the
end of everything. Sunday has us now in the hol-
low of his hand."
" Us ! " repeated the Professor, as if stupefied.
" What do you mean by ' us ' ?"
" The police, of course ! " said the Marquis, and
tore off his scalp and half his face.
The head which emerged was the blonde, well-
brushed, smooth-haired head which is common in
the English constabulary, but the face was terribly
" I am Inspector Ratcliffe," he said, with a sort of
haste that verged on harshness. " My name is
pretty well known to the police, and I can see well
enough that you belong to them. But if there is
any doubt about my position, I have a card "
and he began to pull a blue card from his pocket.
The Professor gave a tired gesture.
THE DUEL 179
" Oh, don't show it us," he said wearily ; " we've
got enough of them to equip a paper-chase."
The httle man named Bull had, like many men
who seem to be of a mere vivacious vulgarity, sud-
den movements of good taste. Here he certainly
saved the situation. In the midst of this staggering
transformation scene he stepped forward with all
the gravity and responsibility of a second, and ad-
dressed the two seconds of the Marquis.
" Gentlemen," he said, " we all owe you a serious
apology ; but I assure you that you have not been
made the victims of such a low joke as you imagine,
or indeed of anything undignified in a man of hon-
our. You have not wasted your time ; you have
helped to save the world. We are not buffoons, but
very desperate men at war with a vast conspiracy,
A secret society of anarchists is hunting us like
hares ; not such unfortunate madmen as may here
or there throw a bomb through starvation or Ger-
man philosophy, but a rich and powerful and fanat-
ical church, a church of eastern pessimism, which
holds it holy to destroy mankind like vermin. How
hard they hunt us you can gather from the fact that
we are driven to such disguises as those for which I
apologise, and to such pranks as this one by which
i8o THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
The younger second of the Marquis, a short man
with a black moustache, bowed politely, and said —
" Of course, I accept the apology ; but you will
in your turn forgive me if I decline to follow you
further into your difficulties, and permit myself to
say good-morning ! The sight of an acquaintance
and distinguished fellow-townsman coming to pieces
in the open air is unusual, and, upon the whole,
sufficient for one day. Colonel Ducroix, I would in
no way influence your actions, but if you feel with
me that our present society is a little abnormal, I
am now going to walk back to the town."
Colonel Ducroix moved mechanically, but then
tugged abruptly at his white moustache and broke
" No, by George ! I won't. If these gentlemen
are really in a mess with a lot of low wreckers like
that, I'll see them through it. I have fought for
France, and it is hard U I can't fight for civilisation."
Dr. Bull took off his hat and waved it, cheering
as at a public meeting.
" Don't make too much noise," said Inspector
Ratcliffe, " Sunday may hear you."
" Sunday ! " cried Bull, and dropped his hat.
" Yes," retorted Ratcliffe, " he may be with them."
" With whom?" asked Syme.
THE DUEL i8i
" With the people out of that train," said the
" What you say seems utterly wild," began Syme.
" Why, as a matter of fact But, my God," he
cried out suddenly, like a man who sees an explo-
sion a long way off, " by God ! if this is true the
whole bally lot of us on the Anarchist Council were
against anarchy! Every born man was a detective
except the President and his personal secretary.
What can it mean ? "
" Mean ! ' said the new policeman with incredible
violence. " It means that we are struck dead !
Don't you know Sunday ? Don't you know that
his jokes are always so big and simple that one has
never thought of them ? Can you think of anything
more like Sunday than this, that he should put all
his powerful enemies on the Supreme Council, and
then take care that it was not supreme ? I tell you,
he has bought every trust, he has captured every
cable, he has control of every railway line — especially
of tJiat railway line ! " and he pointed a shaking
finger towards the small wayside station. " The
whole movement was controlled by him ; half the
world was ready to rise for him. But there were
just five people, perhaps, who would have resisted
him . . . and the old devil put them on the
THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
Supreme Council, to waste their time in watching
each other. Idiots that we are, he planned the
whole of our idiocies ! Sunday knew that the Pro-
fessor would chase Syme through London, and that
Syme would fight me in France. And he was com-
bining great masses of capital, and seizing great
lines of telegraphy, while we five idiots were running
after each other like a lot of confounded babies
playing bhnd man's buff."
" Well ? " asked Syme with a sort of steadiness.
" Well," rephed the other with sudden serenity,
'• he has found us playing blind man's buff to-day in
a field of great rustic beauty and extreme solitude.
He has probably captured the world ; it only re-
mains to him to capture this field and all the fools
in it. And since you really want to know what
was my objection to the arrival of that train,
I will tell you. My objection was that Sunday
or his Secretary has just this moment got out
Syme uttered an involuntary cry, and they all
turned their eyes towards the far-off station. It
was quite true that a considerable bulk of people
seemed to be moving in their direction. But they
were too distant to be distinguished in any way.
" It was a habit of the late Marquis de St. Eus-
THE DUEL 183
tache," said the new policeman, producing a leather
case, " always to carry a pair of opera-glasses.
Either the President or the Secretary is coming
after us with that mob. They have caught us in a
nice quiet place where we are under no temptations
to break our oaths by calling the police. Dr. Bull,
I have a suspicion that you will see better through
these than through your own highly decorative
He handed the field-glasses to the Doctor, who
immediately took off his spectacles and put the
apparatus to his eyes.
" It cannot be as bad as you say," said the Pro-
fessor, somewhat shaken. " There are a good
number of them certainly, but they may easily be
" Do ordinary tourists," asked Bull, with the field-
glass to his eyes, " wear black masks half-way down
the face ? "
Syme almost tore the glasses out of his hand, and
looked through them. Most men in the advancing
mob really looked ordinary enough ; but it was
quite true that two or three of the leaders in front
wore black half-masks almost down to their
mouths. This disguise is very complete, especially
at such a distance, and Syme found it impossible to
1 84 THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
conclude anything from the clean-shaven jaws and
chins of the men talking in the front. But pres-
ently as they talked they all smiled, and one of them
smiled on one side.
THE CRIMINALS CHASE THE POLICE
Syme put the field-glass from his eyes with an
almost ghastly relief.
"The President is not with them, anyhow," he
said, and wiped his forehead.
" But surely they are right away on the horizon,"
said the bewildered Colonel, blinking and but half
recovered from Bull's hasty though polite explana-
tion. " Could you possibly know your President
among all those people?"
" Could I know a white elephant among all those
people!" answered Syme somewhat irritably. "As
you very truly say, they are on the horizon ; but if
he were walking with them ... by God ! I
believe this ground would shake."
After an instant's pause the new man called Rat-
cliffe said with gloomy decision —
" Of course the President isn't with them. I wish
to Gemini he were. Much more likely the Presi-
dent is riding in triumph through Paris, or sitting
on the ruins of St. Paul's Cathedral."
" This is absurd ! " said Syme. " Something
i86 THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
may have happened in our absence ; but he cannot
have carried the world with a rush hke that. It is
quite true," he added, frowning dubiously at the
distant fields that lay towards the little station, " it
is certainly true that there seems to be a crowd
coming this way ; but they are not all the army
that you make out."
" Oh, they," said the new detective contemptu-
ously ; " no, they are not a very valuable force.
But let me tell you frankly that they are precisely
calculated to our value — we are not much, my boy,
in Sunday's universe. He has got hold of all the
cables and telegraphs himself. But to kill the
Supreme Council he regards as a trivial matter,
like a post-card ; it may be left to his private secre-
tary," and he spat on the grass.
Then he turned to the others and said somewhat
" There is a great deal to be said for death ; but
if any one has any preference for the other alterna-
tive, I strongly advise him to walk after me."
With these words, he turned his broad back and
strode with silent energy towards the wood. The
others gave one glance over their shoulders, and
saw that the dark cloud of men had detached itself
from the station and was moving with a mysterious
THE CRIMINALS CHASE THE POLICE 187
discipline across the plain. They saw already, even
with the naked eye, black blots on the foremost
faces, which marked the masks they wore. They
turned and followed their leader, who had already
struck the wood, and disappeared among the
The sun on the grass was dry and hot. So in
plunging into the wood they had a cool shock of
shadow, as of divers who plunge into a dim pool.
The inside of the wood was full of shattered sunlight
and shaken shadows. They made a sort of shudder-
ing veil, almost recalling the dizziness of a cinemato-
graph. Even the solid figures walking with him
Syme could hardly see for the patterns of sun and
shade that danced upon them. Now a man's head
was lit as with a light of Rembrandt, leaving all
else obliterated ; now again he had strong and star-
ing white hands with the face of a negro. The ex-
Marquis had pulled the old straw hat over his eyes,
and the black shade of the brim cut his face so
squarely in two that it seemed to be wearing one of
the black half-masks of their pursuers. The fancy
tinted Syme's overwhelming sense of wonder. Was
he wearing a mask ? Was any one wearing a mask ?
Was any one anything ? This wood of witchery, in
which men's faces turned black and white by turns,
1 88 THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
in which their figures first swelled into sunlight and
then faded into formless night, this mere chaos of
chiaroscuro (after the clear daylight outside), seemed
to Syme a perfect symbol of the world in which he
had been moving for three days, this world where
men took off their beards and their spectacles and
their noses, and turned into other people. That
tragic self-confidence which he had felt when he
believed that the Marquis was a devil had strangely
disappeared now that he knew that the Marquis was
a friend. He felt almost inclined to ask after all
these bewilderments what was a friend and what an
enemy. Was there anything that was apart from
what it seemed ? The Marquis had taken off his
nose and turned out to be a detective. Might he
not just as well take off his head and turn out to be
a hobgoblin ? Was not everything, after all, like
this bewildering woodland, this dance of dark and
light? Everything only a glimpse, the glimpse al-
ways unforeseen, and always forgotten. For Gabriel
Syme had found in the heart of that sun-splashed
wood what many modern painters had found there.
He had found the thing which the modern peo-
ple call Impressionism, which is another name for
that final scepticism which can find no floor to the
THE CRIMINALS CHASE THE POLICE 189
As a man in an evil dream strains himself to
scream and wake, Syme strove with a sudden effort
to fling off this last and worst of his fancies. With
two impatient strides he overtook the man in the
Marquis's straw hat, the man whom he had come
to address as Ratcliffe. In a voice exaggeratively
loud and cheerful, he broke the bottomless silence
and made conversation.
•* May I ask," he said, " where on earth we are all
going to ? "
So genuine had been the doubts of his soul, that
he was quite glad to hear his companion speak in
an easy, human voice.
" We must get down through the town of Lancy
to the sea," he said, " I think that part of the
country is least likely to be with them."
" What can you mean by all this ? " cried Syme.
" They can't be running the real world in that way.
Surely not many working men are anarchists, and
surely if they were, mere mobs could not beat
modern armies and police."
" Mere mobs ! " repeated his new friend with a
snort of scorn. " So you talk about mobs and the
working classes as if they were the question.
You've got that eternal idiotic idea that if anarchy
came it would come from the poor. Why should
I90 THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
it ? The poor have been rebels, but they have never
been anarchists ; they have more interest than any
one else in there being some decent government.
The poor man really has a stake in the country.
The rich man hasn't ; he can go away to New
Guinea in a yacht. The poor have sometimes ob-
jected to being governed badly ; the rich have al-
ways objected to being governed at all. Aristocrats
were always anarchists, as you can see from the
" As a lecture on English history for the little
ones," said Syme, " this is all very nice ; but I have
not yet grasped its application."
" Its application is," said his informant, " that
most of old Sunday's right-hand men are South
African and American milHonaires. That is why
he has got hold of all the communications ; and that
is why the last four champions of the anti-anarchist
police force are running through a wood like rab-
** Millionaires I can understand," said Syme
thoughtfully, " they are nearly all mad. But get-
ting hold of a few wicked old gentlemen with hob-
bies is one thing ; getting hold of great Christian
nations is another. I would bet the nose off my
face (forgive the allusion) that Sunday would stand
THE CRIMINALS CHASE THE POLICE 191
perfectly helpless before the task of converting any
ordinary healthy person anywhere."
" Well," said the other, " it rather depends what
sort of person you mean."
" Well, for instance," said Syme, " we could never
convert that person," and he pointed straight in
front of him.
They had come to an open space of sunlight,
which seemed to express to Syme the final return
of his own good sense ; and in the middle of this
forest clearing was a figure that might well stand
for that common sense in an almost awful actuality.
Burnt by the sun and stained with perspiration, and
grave with the bottomless gravity of small neces-
sary toils, a heavy French peasant was cutting wood
with a hatchet. His cart stood a few yards oflT,
already half full of timber ; and the horse that
cropped the grass was, like his master, valorous but
not desperate ; lilcc his master, he was even pros-
perous, but yet was almost sad. The man was a
Norman, taller than the average of the French and
very angular; and his swarthy figure stood dark
against a square of sunlight, almost like some alle-
goric figure of labour frescoed on a ground of
" Mr. Syme is saying," called out RatclifTc to the
192 THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
French Colonel, " that this man, at least, will never
be an anarchist."
" Mr. Syme is right enough there," answered
Colonel Ducroix, laughing, " if only for the reason
that he has plenty of property to defend. But
I forgot that in your country you are not used to
peasants being wealthy."
" He looks poor," said Dr. Bull doubtfully.
" Quite so," said the Colonel ; " that is why he
" I have an idea," called out Dr. Bull suddenly ;
♦* how much would he take to give us a lift in his
cart? Those dogs are all on foot, and we could
soon leave them behind."
" Oh, give him anything ! " said Syme eagerly.
" I have piles of money on me."
" That will never do," said the Colonel ; " he will
never have any respect for you unless you drive a
** Oh, if he haggles ! " began Bull impatiently.
" He haggles because he is a free man," said the
other. " You do not understand ; he would not see
the meaning of generosity. He is not being tipped."
And even while they seemed to hear the heavy
feet of their strange pursuers behind them, they had
to stand and stamp while the French Colonel talked
THE CRIMINALS CHASE THE POLICE 193
to the French wood-cutter with all the leisurely
badinage and bickering of market-day. At the end
of the four minutes, however, they saw that the
Colonel was right, for the wood- cutter entered into
their plans, not with the vague servility of a tout
too-well paid, but with the seriousness of a solicitor
who had been paid the proper fee. He told them
that the best thing they could do was to make their
way down to the little inn on the hills above Lancy,
where the innkeeper, an old soldier who had become
divot in his latter years, would be certain to sympa-
thise with them, and even to take risks in their
support. The whole company, therefore, piled
themselves on top of the stacks of wood, and went
rocking in the rude cart down tiie other and steeper
side of the woodland. I leavy and ramshackle a.s
wa.s the vehicle, it was driven (juickly enough, and
they soon had the exhilarating impression of dis-
tancing altogether those, whoever the)' were, who
were hunting them. I''or, after all, the riddle as to
where tiie anarchists had got all these followers was
still unsolved. One man's presence had sufficed for
them ; they had fled at the first sight of the de-
formed smile of the Secretary. Syme cver>' now
and then looked back over his shoulder at the army
on their track.
THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
As the wood grew first thinner and then smaller
with distance, he could see the sunlit slopes beyond
it and above it ; and across these was still moving
the square black mob like one monstrous beetle.
In the very strong sunlight and with his own very
strong eyes, which were almost telescopic, Syme
could see this mass of men quite plainly. He could
see th^m as separate human figures ; but he was
increasingly surprised by the way in which they
moved as one man. They seemed to be dressed in
dark clothes and plain hats, like any common crowd
out of the streets ; but they did not spread and
sprawl and trail by various lines to the attack, as
would be natural in an ordinary mob. They moved
with a sort of dreadful and wicked woodenness, like
a staring army of automatons.
Syme pointed this out to Ratcliffe.
" Yes," replied the policeman, " that's discipline.
That's Sunday. He is perhaps five hundred miles
off, but the fear of him is on all of them, like the
finger of God. Yes, they are walking regularly ; and
you bet your boots that they are talking regularly,
yes, and thinking regularly. But the one important
thing for us is that they are disappearing reg-
Syme nodded. It was true that the black patch of
THE CRIMINALS CHASE THE POLICE 195
the pursuing men was growing smaller and smaller
as the peasant belaboured his horse.
The level of the sunlit landscape, though flat as a
whole, fell away on the farther side of the wood in
billows of heavy slope towards the sea, in a way not
unlike the lower slopes of the Sussex downs. The
only difference was that in Sussex the road would
have been broken and angular like a little brook,
but here the white French road fell sheer in front
of them like a waterfall. Down this direct descent
the cart clattered at a considerable angle, and in a
few minutes, the road growing yet steeper, they saw
below them the little harbour of Lancy and a great
blue arc of the sea. The travelling cloud of their
enemies had wholly disappeared from the horizon.
The horse and cart took a sharp turn round a
clump of elms, and the horse's nose nearly struck
the face of an old gentleman who was sitting on the
benches outside the little cafe of •' Le Soleil d'Or."
The peasant grunted an apology, and got down
from his seat. The others also descended one by
one, and spoke to the old gentleman with frag-
mentary phrases of courtesy, for it was quite evi-
dent from his expansive manner that he was the
owner of the little t.ivcrn.
He was a white-haired, apple-faced old boy, with
196 THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
sleepy eyes and a grey moustache ; stout, sedentary,
and very innocent, of a type that may often be
found in France, but is still commoner in Catholic
Germany. Everything about him, his pipe, his
pot of beer, his flowers, his beehive, suggested an
ancestral peace ; only when his visitors looked up
as they entered the inn-parlour, they saw the sword
upon the wall.
The Colonel, who greeted the innkeeper as an
old friend, passed rapidly into the inn-parlour, and
sat down ordering some ritual refreshment. The
military decision of his action interested Syme, who
sat next to him, and he took the opportunity when
the old innkeeper had gone out of satisfying his curi-
" May I ask you. Colonel," he said in a low voice,
" why we have come here ? "
Colonel Ducroix smiled behind his bristly white
" For two reasons, sir," he said ; " and I will give
first, not the most important, but the most utilitarian.
We came here because this is the only place within
twenty miles in which we can get horses."
" Horses ! " repeated Syme, looking up quickly.
"Yes," replied the other; "if you people are
really to distance your enemies it is horses or noth-
THE CRIMINALS CHASE THE POLICE 197
ing for you, unless of course you have bicycles and
motor-cars in your pocket."
" And where do you advise us to make for ? "
asked Syme doubtfully.
" Beyond question," replied the Colonel, " you
had better make all haste to the police station be-
yond the town. My friend, whom I seconded under
somewhat deceptive circumstances, seems to me to
exaggerate very much the possibilities of a general
rising; but even he would hardly maintain, I sup-
pose, that you were not safe with the gendarmes."
Syme nodded gravely ; then he said abruptly —
" And your other reason for coming here?"
" My other reason for coming here," said Ducroix
soberly, " is that it is just as well to sec a good man
or two when one is possibly near to death."
Syme looked up at the wall, and saw a crudely-
painted and pathetic religious picture. Then he
" You are right," and then almost immediately
afterwards, " Has any one seen about tiie horses? "
" Yes," answered Ducroix, " you may be quite
certain that I gave orders the moment I came in.
Those enemies of yours gave no impression of hurrj',
but they were really moving wonderfully fast, like a
well-trained army. I had no idea that the anarchists
198 THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
had so much discipline. You have not a moment
Almost as he spoke, the old innkeeper with the
blue eyes and white hair came ambling into the
room, and announced that six horses were saddled
By Ducroix's advice the five others equipped
themselves with some portable form of food and
wine, and keeping their duelling swords as the only
weapons available, they clattered away down the
steep, white road. The two servants, who had car-
ried the Marquis's luggage when he was a marquis,
were left behind to drink at the cafe by common
consent, and not at all against their own inclination.
By this time the afternoon sun was slanting west-
ward, and by its rays Syme could see the sturdy
figure of the old innkeeper growing smaller and
smaller, but still standing and looking after them
quite silently, the sunshine in his silver hair. Syme
had a fixed, superstitious fancy, left in his mind by
the chance phrase of the Colonel, that this was in-
deed, perhaps, the last honest stranger whom he
should ever see upon the earth.
He was still looking at this dwindling figure,
which stood as a mere grey blot touched with a
white flame against the great green wall of the steep
THE CRIMINALS CIIASK THE POLICE iw
down behind him. And as he stared, over the top
of the down behind tlie innkeeper, there appeared
an army of black-clad and marching men. They
seemed to hang above the good man and his house
like a black cloud of locusts. The horses had been
saddled none too soon.
THE EARTH IN ANARCHY
Urging the horses to a gallop, without respect to
the rather rugged descent of the road, the horse-
men soon regained their advantage over the men
on the march, and at last the bulk of the first
buildings of Lancy cut off the sight of their pur-
suers. Nevertheless, the ride had been a long one,
and by the time they reached the real town the
west was warming with the colour and quality of
sunset. The Colonel suggested that, before making
finally for the police station, they should make the
effort, in passing, to attach to themselves one more
individual who might be useful.
" Four out of the five rich men in this town," he
said, " are common swindlers. I Suppose the pro-
portion is pretty equal all over the world. The
fifth is a friend of mine, and a very fine fellow ;
and what is even more important from our point of
view, he owns a motor-car."
" I am afraid," said the Professor in his mirthful
way, looking back along the white road on which
THE EARTH IN ANARCHY 201
the black, crawling patch might appear at any
moment, " I am afraid we have hardly time for
" Doctor Renard's house is only three minutes
off," said the Colonel.
" Our danger," said Dr. Bull, •' is not t^vo minutes
" Yes," said Syme, " if we ride on fast we must
leave them behind, for they are on foot."
" He has a motor-car," said the Colonel.
" But we may not get it," said Bull.
" Yes, he is quite on your side."
" But he might be out."
"Hold your tongue," said Syme suddenly.
•' What is that noise ? "
For a second they all sat as still as equestrian
statues, and for a second — for two or three or four
seconds — heaven and earth seemed equally still.
Then all their ears, in an agony of attention, heard
along the road that indescribable thrill and throb
that means only one thing — horses !
The Colonel's face had an instantincous change,
as if lightning had struck it, and yet left it scathe-
" They have done us," he said, with brief military
irony. '• Prepare to receive cavalry ! "
202 THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
" Where can they have got the horses ? " asked
Syme, as he mechanically urged his steed to a
The Colonel was silent for a little, then he said
in a strained voice —
" I w^as speaking with strict accuracy when I said
that the ' Soleil d'Or ' was the only place where one
can get horses within twenty miles."
" No ! " said Syme violently, " I don't believe he'd
do it. Not with all that white hair."
" He may have been forced," said the Colonel
gently. " They must be at least a hundred strong,
for which reason we are all going to see my friend
Renard, who has a motor-car."
With these words he swung his horse suddenly
round a street corner, and went down the street with
such thundering speed, that the others, though al-
ready well at the gallop, had difficulty in following
the flying tail of his horse.
Dr. Renard inhabited a high and comfortable
house at the top of a steep street, so that when the
riders alighted at his door they could once more see
the solid green ridge of the hill, with the white road
across it, standing up above all the roofs of the
town. They breathed again to see that the road as
yet was clear, and they rang the bell.
THE l':ARrH IN ANARCHY 203
Dr. Rcnard was a beaming, brown -bearded man,
a good example of that silent but very busy
professional class which France has preserved even
more perfectly than England. When the matter
was explained to him he pooh-poohed the panic of
the ex-Marquis altogether ; he said, with the solid
French scepticism, that there was no conceivable
probability of a general anarchist rising. '• An-
archy," he said, shrugging his shoulders, " it is
childishness ! "
•• Et ca" cried out the Colonel suddenly, pointing
over the other's shoulder, " and that is childishness,
They all looked round, and saw a curve of black
cavalry come sweeping over the top of the hill with
all the energy of Attila. Swiftly as they rode, how-
ever, the whole rank still kept well together, and
they could sec the black vizards of tlic first line as
level as a line of uniforms. Ihit although the main
black square was the same, though travelling faster,
there was now one sensational difference which they
could see clearly upon the slope of the hill, as if
upon a slanted map. The bulk of the riders were
in one block ; but one rider flew far ahead of the
column, and with frantic movements of hand and
heel urged his horse faster and faster, so tliat one
204 THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
might have fancied that he was not the pursuer but
the pursued. But even at that great distance they
could see something so fanatical, so unquestionable
in his figure, that they knew it was the Secretary
" I am sorry to cut short a cultured discussion,"
said the Colonel, " but can you lend me your motor-
car now, in two minutes ? "
" I 'have a suspicion that you are all mad," said
Dr. Renard, smiling sociably ; " but God forbid that
madness should in any way interrupt friendship.
Let us go round to the garage."
Dr. Renard was a mild man with monstrous
wealth ; his rooms were like the Musee de Cluny,
and he had three motor-cars. These, however, he
seemed to use very sparingly, having the simple
tastes of the French middle class, and when his im-
patient friends came to examine them, it took them
some time to assure themselves that one of them
even could be made to work. This with some diffi-
culty they brought round into the street before
the Doctor's house. When they came out of the
dim garage they were startled to find that twilight
had already fallen with the abruptness of night in
the tropics. Either they had been longer in the
place than they imagined, or some unusual canopy
THE EARTH IN ANARCHY 205
of cloud had gathered over tlie town. They looked
down the steep streets, and seemed to sec a shght
mist coming up from the sea.
" It is now or never," said Ur. Bull. "I hear horses,"
" No," corrected the Professor, " a horse."
And as they listened, it was evident that the
noise, rapidly coming nearer on the rattling stones,
was not the noise of the whole cavalcade but that
of the one horseman, who had left it far behind —
the insane Secretary,
Syme's family, like most of those who end in the
simple life, had once owned a motor, and he knew
all about them. lie had leapt at once into the
chauffeur's seat, and with flushed face was wrench-
ing and tugging at the disused machiner>'. He
bent his strength upon one handle, and then said
quite quietly —
" I am afraid it's no go."
As he spoke, there swept round the corner a man,
rigid on his rushing horse, with the rush and rigidity
of an arrow. He had a smile that thrust out his
chin as if it were dislocated. He swept alongside
of the stationary car, into which its company had
crowded, and laid his hand on the front. It was the
Secretary, and his mouth went quite straight in the
solemnity of triumph.
2o6 THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
Syme was leaning hard upon the steering wheel,
and there was no sound but the rumble of the other
pursuers riding into the town. Then there came
quite suddenly a scream of scraping iron, and the
car leapt forward. It plucked the Secretary clean
out of his saddle, as a knife is whipped out of its
sheath, trailed him kicking terribly for twenty yards,
and left him flung flat upon the road far in front of
his frightened horse. As the car took the corner of
the street with a splendid curve, they could just see
the other anarchists filling the street and raising
their fallen leader.
" I can't understand why it has grown so dark,"
said the Professor at last in a low voice.
" Going to be a storm, I think," said Dr. Bull.
" I say, it's a pity we haven't got a light on this car,
if only to see by."
" We have," said the Colonel, and from the floor
of the car he fished up a heavy, old-fashioned,
carved iron lantern with a light inside it. It was
obviously an antique, and it would seem as if its
original use had been in some way semi-rehgious,
for there was a rude moulding of a cross upon one
of its sides.
" Where on earth did you get that ? " asked the
THE EARTH IN ANARCHY 207
" I got it where I got the car," answered the
Colonel, chuckling, " from my best friend. While
our friend here was fighting with the steering wheel,
I ran up the front steps of the house and spoke to
Renard, who was standing in his own porch, you
will remember. ' I suppose,' I said, ' there's no time
to get a lamp.' He looked up, blinking amiably at
the beautiful arched ceiling of his own front hall.
From this was suspended, by chains of exquisite
ironwork, this lantern, one of the hundred treasures
of his treasure house. By sheer force he tore the
lamp out of his own ceiling, shattering tlic painted
panels, and bringing down two blue vases with his
violence. Then he handed me the iron lantern, and
I put it in the car. Was I not right when I said
that Dr. Renard was worth knowing ? "
" You were," said Syme seriously, and hung the
heavy lantern over the front. There wa-s a certain
allegory of their whole position in the contrast be-
tween the modern automobile and its strange, eccle-
Hitherto they had passed through the quietest
part of tile town, meeting at most one or two
pedestrians, who could give tiiem no hint of the
peace or the hostility of the place. Now, however,
the windows in tile houses began one by one to be
2o8 THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
lit up, giving a greater sense of habitation and
humanity. Dr. Bull turned to the new detective
who had led their flight, and permitted himself one
of his natural and friendly smiles.
" These lights make one feel more cheerful."
Inspector Ratcliffe drew his brows together.
•' There is only one set of lights that make me
more cheerful," he said, " and they are those lights
of the police station which I can see beyond the
town. Please God we may be there in ten
Then all Bull's boiling good sense and optimism
broke suddenly out of him.
" Oh, this is all raving nonsense ! " he cried. " If
you really think that ordinary people in ordinary
houses are anarchists, you must be madder than an
anarchist yourself. If we turned and fought these
fellows, the whole town would fight for us."
" No," said the other with an immovable sim-
plicity, " the whole town would fight for them. We
While they were speaking the Professor had leant
forward with sudden excitement.
" What is that noise ? " he said.
" Oh, the horses behind us, I suppose," said the
Colonel. «' I thought we had got clear of them."
THE EARIH IN ANARCHY 209
*• The horses behind us ! No," said the Professor,
" it is not horses, and it is not behind us,"
Ahiiost as he spoke, across the end of the street
before them two shining and rattling shapes shot
past. They were gone almost in a flash, but every
one could see that tiicy were motor-cars, and the
Professor stood up with a pale face and swore
that they were the other two motor-cars from Dr.
" I tell you they were his," he repeated, with
wild eyes, " and they were full of men in
masks ! "
" Absurd! "said the Colonel angrily. " Dr. Re-
nard would never give them his cars."
" He may have been forced," said RatclifTe
quietly. " The whole town is on their side."
" You still believe that," asked the Colonel in-
«' You will all believe it soon," said the other with
a hopeless calm.
There was a puzzled pause for some little time,
and tlien the Colonel began again abruptly —
'• No, I can't believe it. The thing is nonsense.
The plain j)cople of a peaceable P'rench town "
I le was cut short by a bang and a blaze of light,
which seemed close to his eyes. As the car sp>ed on
2IO THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
it left a floating patch of white smoke behind it,
and Syme had heard a shot shriek past his ear.
" My God ! " said the Colonel, " some one has shot
" It need not interrupt conversation," said the
gloomy Ratcliffe. " Pray resume your remarks,
Colonel. You were talking, I think, about the plain
people of a peaceable French town."
The staring Colonel was long past minding satire.
He rolled his eyes all round the street.
" It is extraordinary," he said, " most extraor-
" A fastidious person," said Syme, " might even
call it unpleasant. However, I suppose those lights
out in the field beyond this street are the Gendarm-
erie. We shall soon get there."
" No," said Inspector RatcHffe, " we shall never
He had been standing up and looking keenly
ahead of him. Now he sat down and smoothed his
sleek hair with a weary gesture.
" What do you mean ? " asked Bull sharply.
'• I mean that we shall never get there," said the
pessimist placidly. " They have two rows of armed
men across the road already ; I can see them from
here. The town is in arms, as I said it was. I can
THE EARTH IN ANARCHY 211
only wallow in the exquisite comfort of my own
And Ratcliffe sat down comfortably in the car
and lit a cigarette, but the others rose excitedly and
stared down the road. Syme had slowed down the
car as their plans became doubtful, and he brought
it finally to a standstill just at the corner of a side
street that ran down very steeply to the sea.
The town was mostly in shadow, but the sun had
not sunk ; wherever its level light could break
through, it painted everything a burning gold. Up
this side street the last sunset light shone as sharp
and narrow as the shaft of artificial light at the
theatre. It struck the car of the five friends, and
lit it like a burning chariot. IJut the rest of the
street, especially the two ends of it, was in the
deepest twilight, and for some seconds they could
see nothing. Then Syme, whose eyes were the
keenest, broke into a little bitter whistle, and
" It is quite true. There is a crowd or an army
or some such thing across the end of that street."
" Well, if there is," saitl Hull impatiently, " it
must be something else — a sham fight or the
mayor's birtlulay or something. I cannot and will
not believe that plain, jolly people in a place like
212 THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
this walk about with dynamite in their pockets.
Get on a bit, Syme, and let us look at them."
The car crawled about a hundred yards farther,
and then they were all startled by Dr. Bull breaking
into a high crow of laughter.
" Why, you silly mugs ! " he cried, " what did I
tell you. That crowd's as law-abiding as a cow,
and if it weren't, it's on our side."
"How do you know?" asked the Professor,
" You bUnd bat," cried Bull, *' don't you see who
is leading them ? "
They peered again, and then the Colonel, with a
catch in his voice, cried out —
" Why, it's Renard ! "
There was, indeed, a rank of dim figures running
across the road, and they could not be clearly seen ;
but far enough in front to catch the accident of the
evening light was stalking up and down the unmis-
takable Dr. Renard, in a white hat, stroking his
long brown beard, and holding a revolver in his left
" What a fool I've been ! " exclaimed the Colonel.
" Of course, the dear old boy has turned out to help
Dr. Bull was bubbling over with laughter, swing-
THE EARTH IN ANARCHY 213
ing the sword in his hand as carelessly as a cane.
He jumped out of the car and ran across the
intervening space, caUing out —
" Dr. Renard ! Dr. Renard ! "
An instant after Symc thought his own eyes had
gone mad in his head. For the philanthropic Dr.
Renard had deliberately raised his revolver and
fired twice at Bull, so that the shots rang down the
Almost at the same second as the pufT of white
cloud went up from this atrocious explosion a long
puff of white cloud went up also from the cigarette
of the cynical Ratcliffe. Like all the rest he turned
a little pale, but he smiled. Dr. Hull, at whom the
bullets had been fired, just missing his scalp, stood
quite still in the middle of the road without a sign
of fear, and then turned very slowly and crawled
back to the car, and climbed in with two holes
through his hat.
•• Well," said the cigarette smoker slowly, " what
do you think now?"
" I think," said Dr. liuil with precision, " that I
am lying in bed at No. 217 Tcabody Huildingr;, and
that I shall soon wake up with a jump ; or, if that's
not it, I think that I am sittin;^ in a small cushioned
cell in H.inwell, and that the doctor can't make
214 THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
much of my case. But if you want to know what
I don't think, I'll tell you. I don't think what you
think. I don't think, and I never shall think, that
the mass of ordinary men are a pack of dirty modern
thinkers. No, sir, I'm a democrat, and I still don't
beheve that Sunday could convert one average
navvy or counter-jumper. No, I may be mad, but
Syme turned his bright blue eyes on Bull with an
earnestness which he did not commonly make clear.
" You are a very fine fellow," he said. " You can
believe in a sanity which is not merely your sanity.
And you're right enough about humanity, about
peasants and people like that jolly old innkeeper.
But you're not right about Renard. I suspected
him from the first. He's rationalistic, and, what's
worse, he's rich. When duty and religion are really
destroyed, it will be by the rich."
" They are really destroyed now," said the man
with a cigarette, and rose with his hands in his
pockets. " The devils are coming on! "
The men in the motor-car looked anxiously in
the direction of his dreamy gaze, and they saw that
the whole regiment at the end of the road was ad-
vancing upon them, Dr. Renard marching furiously
in front, his beard flying in the breeze.
THR KARTH IN ANARCHY ^15
The Colonel sprang out of the car with an intol-
" Gentlemen," he cried, " the thing is incredible.
It must be a practical joke. If you knew Renard as
I do — it's like calling Queen Victoria a dynamiter.
If you had got the man's character into your
" Dr. Hull," said Symc sardonically, " has at least
got it into his hat."
" I tell you it can't be ! " cried the Colonel, stamp-
ing. " Renard shall explain it. 1 le shall explain
it to mc," and he strode forward.
" Don't be in such a hurry," drawled the smoker,
" He will very soon explain it to all of us."
But the impatient Colonel was already out of ear-
shot, advancing towards the advancing enemy.
The excited Dr. Renard lifted his pistol again, but
perceiving his opponent, hesitated, and the Colonel
came face to face with him with frantic gestures of
" It is no good," said Syme. " He will never get
anything out of that old heathen. I vote we drive
bang through the thick of them, bang as the bullets
went through lUiU's hat. We may all be killed, but
we must kill a tidy number of them."
" I won't 'ave it," said Dr. Hull, growing more
2i6 THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
vulgar in the sincerity of his virtue. " The poor
chaps may be making a mistake. Give the Colonel
" Shall we go back, then?" asked the Professor.
" No," said Ratcliffe in a cold voice, " the street
behind us is held too. In fact, I seem to see there
another friend of yours, Syme."
Syme spun round smartly, and stared backwards
at the track which they had travelled. He saw an
irregular body of horsemen gathering and galloping
towards them in the gloom. He saw above the
foremost saddle the silver gleam of a sword, and
then as it grew nearer the silver gleam of an old
man's hair. The next moment, with shattering
violence, he had swung the motor round and sent
it dashing down the steep side street to the sea, like
a man that desired only to die.
" What the devil is up ? " cried the Professor,
seizing his arm.
" The morning star has fallen ! " said Syme, as his
own car went down the darkness like a falling
The others did not understand his words, but
when they looked back at the street above they saw
the hostile cavalry coming round the corner and
down the slopes after them ; and foremost of all
THE EARTH IN ANARCHY 217
rode the good innkeeper, flushed with tlie fiery in-
nocence of the evening Ught.
" The world is insane ! " said the Professor, and
buried his face in his hands.
" No," said Dr. Bull in adamantine humility, " it
" What are we going to do ? " asked the Professor.
" At this moment," said Syme, with a scientific
detachment, " 1 think we are going to smash into a
The next instant the automobile had come with a
catastrophic jar against an iron object. The instant
after that four men had crawled out from under a
chaos of metal, and a tall, lean lamp-post that had
stood up straight on the edge of the marine parade
stood out, bent and twisted, like the branch of a
" Well, we smashed something," said the Professor,
with a faint smile. " That's some comfort."
" You're becoming an anarchist," said Syme,
dusting his clothes with his instinct of daintiness.
" Every one is," said Ratcliffe.
As they spoke, the white-haired horseman and
his followers came thundering from above, and
almost at the same moment a dark string of men
ran shouting along the sea-front. Syme snatched a
21 8 THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
swordy and took it in his teeth ; he stuck two others
under his arm-pits, took a fourth in his left hand
and the lantern in his right, and leapt off the high
parade on to the beach below.
The others leapt after him, with a common ac-
ceptance of such decisive action, leaving the debris
and the gathering mob above them.
" We have one more chance," said Syme, taking
the steel out of his mouth. " Whatever all this
pandemonium means, I suppose the police station
will help us. We can't get there, for they hold the
way. But there's a pier or breakwater runs out
into the sea just here, which we could defend longer
than anything else, like Horatius and his bridge.
We must defend it till the Gendarmerie turn out.
Keep after me,"
They followed him as he went crunching down
the beach, and in a second or two their boots broke
not on the sea gravel, but on broad, flat stones.
They marched down a long, Iqw jetty, running out
in one arm into the dim, boiling sea, and when they
came to the end of it they felt that they had come
to the end of their story. They turned and faced
That town was transfigured with uproar. All
along the high parade from which they had just
THE EARTH IN ANARCHY 219
descended was a dark and roaring stream of
humanity, with tossing arms and fiery faces, grop-
ing and glaring towards them. The long dark line
was dotted with torches and lanterns ; but even
where no flame lit up a furious face, they could see
in the farthest figure, in the most shadowy gesture,
an organised hate. It was clear that they were the
accursed of all men, and they knew not why.
Two or three men, looking little and black Hke
monkeys, leapt over the edge as they had done and
dropped on to the beach. These came ploughing
down the deep sand, shouting horribly, and strove
to wade into the sea at random. The example was
followed, and the whole black mass of men began to
run and drip over the edge like black treacle.
Foremost among the men on the beach Syme saw
the peasant who had driven their cart. He splashed
into the surf on a huge cart-horse, and shook his axe
" The peasant ! " cried Syme. " They have not
risen since the Middle Ages."
" Even if the police do come now," said the Pro-
fessor mournfully, " they can do nothing with this
" Nonsense ! " said Bull desperately ; " there must
be some people left in the town who are human."
220 THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
" No," said the hopeless Inspector, " the human
being will soon be extinct. We are the last of man-
" It may be," said the Professor absently. Then
he added in his dreamy voice, " What is all that at
the end of the ' Dunciad ' ?
" 'Nor public flame, nor private, dares to shine
Nor human life is left, nor glimpse divine !
Lo ! thy dread Empire, Chaos, is restored ;
Light dies before thine uncreating word :
Thy hand, great Anarch, lets the curtain fall ;
And universal darkness buries all.' "
" Stop ! " cried Bull suddenly, " the gendarmes
The low lights of the police station were indeed
blotted and broken with hurrying figures, and they
heard through the darkness the clash and jingle of a
" They are charging the mob ! " cried Bull in
ecstasy or alarm.
" No," said Syme, " they are formed along the
" They have unslung their carbines," cried Bull,
dancing with excitement.
" Yes," said Ratcliffe, " and they are going to fire
THE EARTH IN ANARCHY 221
As he spoke there came a long crackle of
musketry, and bullets seemed to hop like hailstones
on the stones in front of them.
" The gendarmes have joined them ! " cried the
Professor, and struck his forehead.
" I am in the padded cell," said Bull
There was a long silence, and then Ratcliffe said,
looking out over the swollen sea, all a sort of grey
" What does it matter who is mad or who is sane ?
We shall all be dead soon."
Syme turned to him and said —
" You are quite hopeless, then ? "
Mr. Ratcliffe kept a stony silence ; then at last he
said quietly —
" No ; oddly enough I am not quite hopeless.
There is one insane little hope that I cannot get out
of my mind. The power of this whole planet is
against us, yet I cannot help wondering whether this
one silly little hope is hopeless yet."
" In what or whom is your hope ? " asked Syme
" In a man I never saw," said the other, looking
at the leaden sea.
** I know what you mean," said Syme in a low
222 THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
voice, " the man in the dark room. But Sunday-
must have killed him by now."
" Perhaps," said the other steadily ; " but if so,
he was the only man whom Sunday found it hard
" I heard what you said," said the Professor, with
his back turned. " I also am holding hard on to the
thing I never saw."
All of a sudden Syme, who was standing as if
blind with introspective thought, swung round and
cried out, like a man waking from sleep —
" Where is the Colonel ? I thought he was with
" The Colonel ! Yes," cried Bull," where on earth
is the Colonel ? "
" He went to speak to Renard," said the Pro-
" We cannot leave him among all those beasts,"
cried Syme. " Let us die like gentlemen if "
" Do not pity the Colonel," said Ratchffe, with a
pale sneer. " He is extremely comfortable. He
" No ! no ! no ! " cried Syme in a kind of frenzy,
" not the Colonel too ! I will never believe it ! "
" Will you believe your eyes ? " asked the other,
and pointed to the beach.
THE EARTH IN ANARCHY 223
Many of their pursuers had waded into the water
shaking their fists, but the sea was rough, and they
could not reach the pier. Two or three figures,
however, stood on the beginning of the stone foot-
way, and seemed to be cautiously advancing down
it. The glare of a chance lantern lit up the faces of
the two foremost. One face wore a black half-
mask, and under it the mouth was twisting about in
such a madness of nerves that the black tuft of
beard wriggled round and round like a restless,
living thing. The other was the red face and white
moustache of Colonel Ducroix. They were in
" Yes, he is gone too," said the Professor, and
sat down on a stone. " Everything's gone. I'm
gone! I can't trust my own bodily machinery. I
feel as if my own hand might fly up and strike
" When my hand flies up," said Syme, " it will
strike somebody else," and he strode along the pier
towards the Colonel, the sword in one hand and the
lantern in the other.
As if to destroy the last hope or doubt, the
Colonel, who saw him coming, pointed his revolver
at him and fired. The shot missed Symc, but
struck his sword, breaking it short at the hilt.
THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
Syme rushed on, and swung the iron lantern above
" Judas before Herod ! " he said, and struck the
Colonel down upon the stones. Then he turned to
the Secretary, whose frightful mouth was almost
foaming now, and held the lamp high with so rigid
and arresting a gesture, that the man was, as it
were, frozen for a moment, and forced to hear.
" Do you see this lantern ? " cried Syme in a
terrible voice. " Do you see the cross carved on
it, and the flame inside? You did not make it.
You did not light it. Better men than you, men
who could believe and obey, twisted the entrails of
iron and preserved the legend of fire. There is not
a street you walk on, there is not a thread you
wear, that was not made as this lantern was, by
denying your philosophy of dirt and rats. You
can make nothing. You can only destroy. You
will destroy mankind ; you will destroy the world.
Let that suflfice you. Yet this one old Christian
lantern you shall not destroy. It shall go where your
empire of apes will never have the wit to find it."
He struck the Secretary once with the lantern so
that he staggered ; and then, whirling it twice round
his head, sent it flying far out to sea, where it flared
like a roaring rocket and fell.
THE EARTH IN ANARCHY 225
" Swords ! " shouted Syme, turning his flaming
face to the three behind him. " Let us charge these
dogs, for our time has come to die."
His three companions came after him sword in
hand. Syme's sword was broken, but he rent a
bludgeon from the fist of a fisherman, flinging him
down. In a moment they would have flung them-
selves upon the face of the mob and perished, when
an interruption came. The Secretary, ever since
Syme's speech, had stood with his hand to his
stricken head as if dazed ; now he suddenly pulled
off his black mask.
The pale face thus peeled in the \amplight re-
vealed not so much rage as astonishment. He put
up his hand with an anxious authority.
" There is some mistake," he said. " Mr. Syme,
I hardly think you understand your position. I
arrest you in the name of the law."
" Of the law ? " said Syme, and dropped his
" Certainly ! " said the Secretary. " I am a de-
tective from Scotland Yard," and he took a small
blue card from his pocket.
" And what do you suppose we are? " asked the
Professor, and threw up his arms.
" You," said the Secretary stiffly, " are, as I know
226 THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
for a fact, members of the Supreme Anarchist
Council. Disguised as one of you, I "
Dr. Bull tossed his sword into the sea.
" There never was any Supreme Anarchist Coun-
cil," he said. " We were all a lot of silly policemen
looking at each other. And all these nice people who
have been peppering us with shot thought we were
the dynamiters. I knew I couldn't be wrong about
the mob," he said, beaming over the enormous
multitude, which stretched away to the distance on
both sides. " Vulgar people are never mad. I'm
vulgar myself, and I know. I am now going on
shore to stand a drink to everybody here."
THE PURSUIT OF THE PRESIDENT
Next morning five bewildered but hilarious
people took the boat for Dover. The poor old
Colonel might have had some cause to complain,
having been fii-st forced to fight for two factions that
didn't exist, and then knocked down with an iron
lantern. But he was a magnanimous old gentle-
man, and being much relieved that neither party
had anything to do with dynamite, he saw them off
on the pier with great geniality.
The five reconciled detectives had a hundred
details to explain to each other. The Secretary
had to tell Syme how they had come to wear
masks originally in order to approach the supposed
enemy as fellow-conspirators ; Syme had to explain
how they had fled with such swiftness through a
civilised country, l^ut above all these matters of
detail which could be explained, rose the central
mountain of the matter that they could not explain.
What did it all mean? If they were all harmless
officers, what was Sunday? If he had not seized
228 THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
the world, what on earth had he been up to ?
Inspector RatcHffe was still gloomy about this.
" I can't make head or tail of old Sunday's little
game any more than you can," he said. " But
whatever else Sunday is, he isn't a blameless citizen.
Damn it ! do you remember his face ? "
" I grant you," answered Syme, " that I have
never been able to forget it."
•' Well," said the Secretary, " I suppose we can
find out soon, for to-morrow we have our next
general meeting. You will excuse me," he said,
with a rather ghastly smile, " for being well ac-
quainted with my secretarial duties."
" I suppose you are right," said the Professor
reflectively. " I suppose we might find it out from
him ; but I confess that I should feel a bit afraid of
asking Sunday who he really is."
" Why," asked the Secretary, " for fear of
bombs ? "
" No," said the Professor, " for fear he might tell
" Let us have some drinks," said Dr. Bull, after a
Throughout their whole journey by boat and
train they were highly convivial, but they instinc-
tively kept together. Dr. Bull, who had always
THE PURSUIT OF THE PRESIDENT 229
been the optimist of the party, endeavoured to
persuade the other four that the whole company
could take the same hansom cab from Victoria ; but
this was overruled, and they went in a four-
wheeler, with Dr. Bull on the box, singing. They
finished their journey at an hotel in Piccadilly Cir-
cus, so as to be close to the early breakfast next
morning in Leicester Square. Yet even then the
adventures of the day were not entirely over. Dr.
Bull, discontented with the general proposal to go
to bed, had strolled out of the hotel at about eleven
to see and taste some of the beauties of London.
Twenty minutes afterwards, however, he came back
and made quite a clamour in the hall. Syme, who
tried at first to soothe him, was forced at last to
listen to his communication with quite new at-
" I tell you I've seen him ! " said Dr. Bull, with
" Whom ? " asked Syme quickly. " Not the
President ? "
" Not so bad as that," said Dr. l^ull, with un-
necessary laughter, " not so bad as that. I've got
" Got whom here ? " asked Syme impatiently.
" Hairy man," said the other lucidly, " man that
230 THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
used to be hairy man — Gogol. Here he is," and
he pulled forward by a reluctant elbow the identical
young man who five days before had marched out
of the Council with thin red hair and a pale face,
the first of all the sham anarchists who had been
•« Why do you worry with me ? " he cried. " You
have expelled me as a spy."
" We are all spies ! " whispered Syme.
" We're all spies ! " shouted Dr. Bull. " Come
and have a drink."
Next morning the battalion of the reunited six
marched stolidly towards the hotel in Leicester
" This is more cheerful," said Dr. Bull ; " we
are six men going to ask one man what he
" I think it is a bit queerer than that," said Syme.
"< I think it is six men going to ask one man what
They turned in silence into the Square, and
though the hotel was in the opposite corner, they
saw at once the little balcony and a figure that
looked too big for it. He Avas sitting alone with
bent head, poring over a newspaper. But all his
councillors, who had come to vote him down, crossed
THE PURSUIT OF THE PRESIDENT 231
that square as if they were watched out of heaven
by a hundred eyes.
They had disputed much upon their poHcy, about
whether they should leave the unmasked Gogol
without and begin diplomatically, or whether they
should bring him in and blow up the gunpowder at
once. The influence of Syme and Bull prevailed for
the latter course, though the Secretary to the last
asked them why they attacked Sunday so rashly.
" My reason is quite simple," said Syme. " I
attack him rashly because I am afraid of him."
They followed Syme up the dark stair in silence,
and they all came out simultaneously into the broad
sunlight of the morning and the broad sunlight of
" Delightful ! " he said. " So pleased to see you
all. What an exquisite day it is. Is the Czar
dead ? "
The Secretary, who happened to be foremost,
drew himself together for a dignified outburst.
" No, sir," he said sternly, " there has been no
massacre. I bring you news of no such disgusting
" Disgusting spectacles ? " repeated the President,
with a bright, inquiring smile. " You mean Dr. Bull's
spectacles ? "
232 THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
The Secretary choked for a moment, and the
President went on with a sort of smooth appeal —
" Of course, we all have our opinions and even
our eyes, but really to call them disgusting before
the man himself "
Dr. Bull tore off his spectacles and broke them
on the table.
" My spectacles are blackguardly," he said, " but
I'm not. Look at my face."
" I dare say it's the sort of face that grows on
one," said the President, " in fact, it grows on you ;
and who am I to quarrel with the wild fruits upon
the Tree of Life ? I dare say it will grow on me
" We have no time for tomfoolery," said the Sec-
retary, breaking in savagely. " We have come to
know what all this means. Who are you ? What
are you ? Why did you get us all here ? Do you
know who and what we are ? Are you a half-witted
man playing the conspirator, or are you a clever
man playing the fool? Answer me, I tell you."
" Candidates," murmured Sunday, " are only re-
quired to answer eight out of the seventeen ques-
tions on the paper. As far as I can make out, you
want me to tell you what I am, and what you are,
and what this table is, and what this Council is, and
THE PURSUIT OF THE PRESIDENT 233
what this world is for all I know. Well, I will go
so far as to rend the veil of one m)'ster)'. If you
want to know what you are, you are a set of highly
well-intentioned young jackasses."
" And you," said Syme, leaning forward, " what
are you ? "
" I ? What am I ? " roared the President, and he
rose slowly to an incredible height, like some enor-
mous wave about to arch above them and break.
"You want to know what I am, do you? BuH,
you are a man of science. Grub in the roots of
those trees and find out the truth about them.
Syme, you are a poet. Stare at those morning
clouds, and tell me or any one the truth about
morning clouds. But I tell you this, that you will
have found out the truth of the last tree and the
topmost cloud before the truth about me. You
will understand the sea, and I shall be still a riddle »
you shall know what the stars are, and not know
what I am. Since the beginning of the world all
men have hunted me like a wolf — kings and sages,
and poets and law-givers, all the churches, and all
the philosophies. But I have never been caught
yet, and the skies will fall in the time I turn to bay.
I have given them a good run for their money, and
I will now."
234 THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
Before one of them could move, the monstrous
man had swung himself like some huge ourang-
outang over the balustrade of the balcony. Yet
before he dropped he pulled himself up again as on
a horizontal bar, and thrusting his great chin over
the edge of the balcony, said solemnly —
" There's one thing I'll tell you though about
who I am. I am the man in the dark room, who
made you all poHcemen."
With that he fell from the balcony, bouncing on
the stones below like a great ball of india-rubber,
and went bounding off towards the corner of the
Alhambra, where he hailed a hansom-cab and sprang
inside it. The six detectives had been standing
thunderstruck and livid in the light of his last asser-
tion ; but when he disappeared into the cab, Syme's
practical senses returned to him, and leaping over
the balcony so recklessly as almost to break his legs,
he called another cab.
He and Bull sprang into the cab together, the
Professor and the Inspector into another, while the
Secretary and the late Gogol scrambled into a third
just in time to pursue the flying Syme, who was
pursuing the flying President. Sunday led them a
wild chase towards the northwest, his cabman,
evidently under the influence of more than common
THE PURSUIT OF THE PRESIDENT 235
inducements, urging the horse at breakneck speed.
But Syme was in no mood for delicacies, and he
stood up in his own cab shouting, " Stop thief ! "
until crowds ran along beside his cab, and police-
men began to stop and ask questions. All this had
its influence upon the President's cabman, who be-
gan to look dubious, and to slow down to a trot.
He opened the trap to talk reasonably to his fare,
and in so doing let the long whip droop over the
front of the cab. Sunday leant forward, seized it,
and jerked it violently out of the man's hand. Then
standing up in front of the cab himself, he lashed
the horse and roared aloud, so that they went down
the streets like a flying storm. Through street after
street and square after square went whirling this pre-
posterous vehicle, in which the fare was urging
the horse and the driver trying desperately to stop
it. The other three cabs came after it (if the
phrase be permissible of a cab) like panting hounds.
Shops and streets shot by like rattling arrows.
At the highest ecstasy of speed, Sunday turned
round on the splashboard where he stood, and stick-
ing his great grinning head out of the cab, with
white hair whistling in the wind, he made a horrible
face at his pursuers, like some colossal urchin. Then
raising his right hand swiftly, he flung a ball of paper
236 THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
in Syme's face and vanished. Syme caught the
thing while instinctively warding it off, and dis-
covered that it consisted of two crumpled papers.
One was addressed to himself, and the other to Dr.
Bull, with a very long, and it is to be feared partly
ironical, string of letters after his name. Dr. Bull's
address was, at any rate, considerably longer than
his communication, for the communication consisted
entirely of the words : —
" What about Martin Tupper now ? "
" What does the old maniac mean ? " asked Bull,
staring at the words. '• What does yours say,
Syme ? "
Syme's message was, at any rate, longer, and ran
as follows : —
*' No one would regret anything in the nature of
an interference by the Archdeacon more than I.
I trust it will not come to that. But, for the last
time, where are your goloshes ? The thing is too
bad, especially after what uncle said."
The President's cabman seemed to be regaining
some control over his horse, and the pursuers
gained a little as they swept round into the Edgware
THE PURSUIT OF THE PRESIDENT 237
Road. And here there occurred what seemed to the
aUies a providential stoppage. Traffic of every kind
was swerving to right or left or stopping, for down
the long road was coming the unmistakable roar
announcing the fire-engine, which in a few seconds
went by like a brazen thunder-bolt. But quick as
it went by, Sunday had bounded out of his cab,
sprung at the fire-engine, caught it, slung himself
on to it, and was seen as he disappeared in the noisy
distance talking to the astonished fireman with ex-
" After him ! " howled Syme. " He can't go
astray now. There's no mistaking a fire-engine."
The three cabmen, who had been stunned for a
moment, whipped up their horses and slightly de-
creased the distance between themselves and their
disappearing prey. The President acknowledged
this proximity by coming to the back of the car,
bowing repeatedly, kissing his hand, and finally
flinging a neatly-folded note into the bosom of
Inspector Ratcliffe. When that gentleman opened
it, not without impatience, he found it contained
the words : —
" Fly at once. The truth about your trouser-
stretchers is known. — A Friend."
238 THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
The fire-engine had struck still farther to the
north, into a region that they did not recognise ;
and as it ran by a line of high railings shadowed
with trees, the six friends were startled, but some-
what relieved, to see the President leap from the
fire-engine, though whether through another whim
or the increasing protest of his entertainers they
could not see. Before the three cabs, however,
could reach up to the spot, he had gone up the high
railings like a huge grey cat, tossed himself over,
and vanished in a darkness of leaves.
Syme with a furious gesture stopped his cab,
jumped out, and sprang also to the escalade. When
he had one leg over the fence and his friends were
following, he turned a face on them which shone
quite pale in the shadow.
" What place can this be ? " he asked. " Can it
be the old devil's house ? I've heard he has a house
in North London."
" All the better," said the Secretary grimly, plant-
ing a foot in a foothold, " we shall find him at home."
" No, but it isn't that," said Syme, knitting his
brows. " I hear the most horrible noises, like devils
laughing and sneezing and blowing their devilish
noses ! "
" His dogs barking, of course," said the Secretary.
THE PURSUIT OF THE PRESIDENT 239
" Why not say his black-beetles barking ! " said
Syme furiously, " snails barking ! geraniums bark-
ing ! Did you ever hear a dog bark like that ? "
He held up his hand, and there came out of the
thicket a long, growling roar that seemed to get
under the skin and freeze the flesh — a low thrilling
roar that made a throbbing in the air all about them.
" The dogs of Sunday would be no ordinary dogs,"
said Gogol, and shuddered.
Syme had jumped down on the other side, but he
still stood listening impatiently.
" Well, listen to that," he said, " is that a dog —
anybody's dog? "
There broke upon their ear a hoarse screaming
as of things protesting and clamouring in sudden
pain ; and then, far off like an echo, what sounded
like a long nasal trumpet.
" Well, his house ought to be hell ! " said the Sec-
retary; "and if it is hell, I'm going in ! " and he
sprang over the tall railings almost with one swing.
The others followed. They broke through a
tangle of plants and shrubs, and came out on an
open path. Nothing was in sight, but Dr. Bull
suddenly struck his hands together.
" Why, you asses," he cried, " it's the Zoo ! "
As they were looking round wildly for any trace
240 THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
of their wild quarry, a keeper in uniform came run-
ning along the path with a man in plain clothes.
" Has it come this way ? " gasped the keeper.
" Has what ? " asked Syme.
" The elephant ! " cried the keeper. "An elephant
has gone mad and run away ! "
" He has run away with an old gentleman," said
the other stranger breathlessly, " a poor old gentle-
man with white hair ! "
" What sort of old gentleman ? " asked Syme,
with great curiosity.
" A very large and fat old gentleman in light
grey clothes," said the keeper eagerly.
" Well," said Syme, " if he's that particular kind
of old gentleman, if you're quite sure that he's a
large and fat old gentleman in grey clothes, you
may take my word for it that the elephant has not
run away with him. He has run away with the
elephant. The elephant is not made by God that
could run away with him if he did not consent to
the elopement. And, by thunder, there he is ! "
There was no doubt about it this time. Clean
across the space of grass, about two hundred yards
away, with a crowd screaming and scampering vainly
at his heels, went a huge grey elephant at an awful
stride, with his trunk thrown out as rigid as a ship's
THE PURSUIT OF THE PRESIDENT 241
bowsprit, and trumpeting like the trumpet of doom.
On the back of the bellowing and plunging animal
sat President Sunday with all the placidity of a
sultan, but goading the animal to a furious speed
with some sharp object in his hand.
" Stop him ! " screamed the populace. " He'll be
out of the gate ! "
" Stop a landslide ! " said the keeper. " He is
out of the gate ! "
And even as he spoke, a final crash and roar of
terror announced that the great grey elephant had
broken out of the gates of the Zoological Gardens,
and was careering down Albany Street like a new
and swift sort of omnibus.
" Great Lord ! " cried Bull, " I never knew an
elephant could go so fast. Well, it must be hansom-
cabs again if we are even to keep him in sight."
As they raced along to the gate out of which the
elephant had vanished, Syme felt a glaring panorama
of the strange animals in the cages which they
passed. Afterwards he thought it queer that he
should have seen them so clearly. He remembered
especially seeing pelicans, with their preposterous,
pendant throats. He wondered why the pelican
was the symbol of charity, except it was that it
wanted a good deal of charity to admire a pelican.
242 THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
He remembered a hornbill, which was simply a huge
yellow beak with a small bird tied on behind it.
The whole gave him a sensation, the vividness of
which he could not explain, that Nature was always
making quite mysterious jokes. Sunday had told
them that they would understand him when
they had understood the stars. He wondered
whether even the archangels understood the horn-
The six unhappy detectives flung themselves into
cabs and followed the elephant, sharing the terror
which he spread through the long stretch of the
streets. This time Sunday did not turn round, but
offered them the solid stretch of his unconscious
back, which maddened them, if possible, more than
his previous mockeries. Just before they came to
Baker Street, however, he was seen to throw some-
thing far up into the air, as a boy does a ball mean-
ing to catch it again. But at their rate of racing
it fell far behind, just by the cab containing Gogol ;
and in faint hope of a clue or for some impulse
unexplainable, he stopped his cab so as to pick it
up. It was addressed to himself, and was quite a
bulky parcel. On examination, however, its bulk
was found to consist of thirty -three pieces of paper
of no value wrapped one round the other. When
THE PURSUIT OF THE PRESIDENT 243
the last covering was torn away it reduced itself to
a small slip of paper, on which was written : —
" The word, I fancy, should be ' pink.' "
The man once known as Gogol said nothing, but
the movements of his hands and feet were like
those of a man urging a horse to renewed efforts.
Through street after street, through district after
district, went the prodigy of the flying elephant,
calling crowds to every window, and driving the
traffic left and right. And still through all this
insane publicity the three cabs toiled after it, until
they came to be regarded as part of a procession,
and perhaps the advertisement of a circus. They
went at such a rate that distances were shortened
beyond belief, and Syme saw the Albert Hall in
Kensington when he thought that he was still in
Paddington. The animal's pace was even more
fast and free through the empty, aristocratic streets
of South Kensington, and he finally headed to-
wards that part of the sky-line where the enormous
Wheel of Earl's Court stood up in the sky. The
wheel grew larger and larger, till it filled heaven
like the wheel of stars.
The beast outstripped the cabs. They lost him
round several corners, and when they came to one
244 THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
of the gates of the Earl's Court Exhibition they
found themselves finally blocked. In front of them
was an enormous crowd ; in the midst of it was an
enormous elephant, heaving and shuddering as
such shapeless creatures do. But the President
" Where has he gone to ? " asked Syme, shpping
to the ground.
" Gentleman rushed into the Exhibition, sir ! "
said an official in a dazed manner. Then he
added in an injured voice: "Funny gentleman,
sir. Asked me to hold his horse, and gave me
He held out with distaste a piece of folded paper,
addressed : " To the Secretary of the Central
The Secretary, raging, rent it open, and found
written inside it : —
" When the herring runs a mile,
Let the Secretary smile;
When the herring tries to fly,
Let the Secretary die.
*' Why the eternal crikey," began the Secretary,
«' did you let the man in ? Do people commonly
THE PURSUIT OF THE PRESIDENT 245
come to your Exhibition riding on mad elephants ?
" Look ! " shouted Syme suddenly. " Look over
" Look at what ? " asked the Secretary savagely.
" Look at the captive balloon ! " said Syme, and
pointed in a frenzy.
" Why the blazes should I look at a captive
balloon ? " demanded the Secretary. " What is
there queer about a captive balloon ? "
" Nothing," said Syme, " except that it isn't
captive ! "
They all turned their eyes to where the balloon
swung and swelled above the Exhibition on a
string, like a child's balloon. A second afterwards
the string came in two just under the car, and the
balloon, broken loose, floated away with the free-
dom of a soap bubble.
" Ten thousand devils ! " shrieked the Secretary.
" He's got into it ! " and he shook his fists at the
The balloon, borne by some chance wind, came
right above them, and they could sec the great
white head of the President peering over the side
and looking benevolently down on them.
"God bless my soul !" said the Professor with
246 THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
the elderly manner that he could never disconnect
from his bleached beard and parchment face.
" God bless my soul ! I seemed to fancy that
something fell on the top of my hat ! "
He put up a trembling hand and took from that
shelf a piece of twisted paper, which he opened
absently, only to find it inscribed with a true lover's
knot and the words : —
" Your beauty has not left me indifferent. —
From Little Snowdrop."
There was a short silence, and then Syme said,
biting his beard —
" I'm not beaten yet. The blasted thing must
come down somewhere. Let's follow it ! "
THE SIX PHILOSOPHERS
Across green fields, and breaking through bloom-
ing hedges, toiled six draggled detectives, about five
miles out of London. The optimist of the party-
had at first proposed that they should follow the
balloon across South England in hansom-cabs. But
he was ultimately convinced of the persistent re-
fusal of the balloon to follow the roads, and the still
more persistent refusal of the cabmen to follow the
balloon. Consequently the tireless though ex-
asperated travellers broke through black thickets
and ploughed through ploughed fields till each was
turned into a figure too outrageous to be mistaken
for a tramp. Those green hills of Surrey saw the
final collapse and tragedy of the admirable light
grey suit in which Syme had set out from Saffron
Park. His silk hat was broken over his nose by a
swinging bough, his coat-tails were torn to the
shoulder by arresting thorns, the clay of England was
splashed up to his collar ; but he still carried his
yellow beard forward with a silent and furious de-
248 THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
termination, and his eyes were still fixed on that
floating ball of gas, which in the full flush of sunset
seemed coloured like a sunset cloud.
" After all," he said, " it is very beautiful ! "
" It is singularly and strangely beautiful ! " said
the Professor. " I wish the beastly gas-bag would
burst ! "
" No," said Dr. Bull, " I hope it won't. It might
hurt the old boy."
" Hurt him ! " said the vindictive Professor,
" hurt him ! Not as much as I'd hurt him if I
could get up with him. Little Snowdrop ! " '
" I don't want him hurt, somehow," said Dr.
" What ! " cried the Secretary bitterly. " Do you
believe all that tale about his being our man in the
dark room ? Sunday would say he was anybody."
" I don't know whether I believe it or not," said
Dr. Bull. " But it isn't that that I mean. I can't
wish old Sunday's balloon to burst because "
" Well," said Syme impatiently, " because?"
" Well, because he's so jolly like a balloon him-
self," said Dr. Bull desperately. " I don't under-
stand a word of all that idea of his being the same
man who gave us all our blue cards. It seems to
make everything nonsense. But I don't care who
THE SIX PHILOSOPHERS 249
knows it, I always had a sympathy for old Sunday
himself, wicked as he was. Just as if he was a great
bouncing baby. How can 1 explain what my queer
sympathy was ? It didn't prevent my fighting him
like hell ! Shall I make it clear if I say that I hked
him because he was so fat ? "
" You will not," said the Secretary.
" I've got it now," cried Bull, " it was because he
was so fat and so light. Just like a balloon. We
always think of fat people as heavy, but he could
have danced against a sylph. I see now what I
mean. Moderate strength is shown in violence,
supreme strength is shown in levity. It was like
the old speculations — what would happen if an
elephant could leap up in the sky like a grass-
" Our elephant," said Syme, looking upwards,
" has leapt into the sky like a grasshopper."
" And somehow," concluded Bull, " that's why I
can't help liking old Sunday. No, it's not an ad-
miration of force, or any silly thing like that.
There is a kind of gaiety in the thing, as if he were
bursting with some good news. Haven't you some-
times felt it on a spring day ? You know Nature
plays tricks, but somehow that day proves they are
good-natured tricks. I never read the Bible myself.
250 THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
but that part they laugh at is Hteral truth, * Why-
leap ye, ye high hills ? ' The hills do leap — at least,
they try to. . . . Why do I like Sunday ?
. . . how can I tell you ? . . . because he's
such a Bounder."
There was a long silence, and then the Secretary
said in a curious, strained voice —
" You do not know Sunday at all. Perhaps it is
because you are better than I, and do not know hell.
I was a fierce fellow, and a trifle morbid from the
first. The man who sits in darkness, and who chose
us all, chose me because I had all the crazy look of
a conspirator — because my smile went crooked, and
my eyes were gloomy, even when I smiled. But
there must have been something in me that answered
to the nerves in all these anarchic men. For when
I first saw Sunday he expressed to me, not your
airy vitality, but something both gross and sad in
the Nature of Things. I found him smoking in a
twilight room, a room with brown blind down,
infinitely more depressing than the genial darkness
in which our master lives. He sat there on a bench,
a huge heap of a man, dark and out of shape. He
listened to all my words without speaking or even
stirring. I poured out my most passionate appeals,
and asked my most eloquent questions. Then,
THE SIX PHILOSOPHERS 251
after a long silence, the Thing began to shake, and
I thought it was shaken by some secret malady.
It shook like a loathsome and living jelly. It
reminded me of everything I had ever read about
the base bodies that are the origin of life — the deep
sea lumps and protoplasm. It seemed like the final
form of matter, the most shapeless and the most
shameful. I could only tell myself, from its shud-
derings, that it was something at least that such a
monster could be miserable. And then it broke
upon me that the bestial mountain was shaking with
a lonely laughter, and the laughter was at me. Do
you ask me to forgive him that? It is no small
thing to be laughed at by something at once lower
and stronger than oneself."
" Surely you fellows are exaggerating wildly,"
cut in the clear voice of Inspector Ratchffe. " Presi-
dent Sunday is a terrible fellow for one's intellect,
but he is not such a Barnum's freak physically as
you make out. He received me in an ordinary
office, in a grey check coat, in broad daylight. He
talked to me in an ordinary way. But I'll tell you
what is a trifle creepy about Sunday. His room is
neat, his clothes are neat, everything seems in order;
but he's absent-minded. Sometimes his great
bright eyes go quite blind. For hours he forgets
252 THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
that you are there. Now absent-mindedness is just
a bit too awful in a bad man. We think of a wicked
man as vigilant. We can't think of a wicked man
who is honestly and sincerely dreamy, because we
daren't think of a wicked man alone with himself.
An absent-minded man means a good-natured man.
It means a man who, if he happens to see you, will
apologise. But how will you bear an absent-minded
man who, if he happens to see you, will kill you ?
That is what tries the nerves, abstraction combined
with cruelty. Men have felt it sometimes when
they went through wild forests, and felt that the
animals there were at once innocent and pitiless.
They might ignore or slay. How would you like
to pass ten mortal hours in a parlour with an absent-
"And what do you think of Sunday, Gogol ? "
" I don't think of Sunday on principle," said
Gogol simply, " any more than I stare at the sun at
"Well, that is a point of view," said Syme
thoughtfully. " What do you say, Professor ? "
The Professor was walking with bent head
and trailing stick, and he did not answer
THE SIX PHILOSOPHERS 253
" Wake up, Professor ! " said Syme genially.
" Tell us what you think of Sunday."
The Professor spoke at last very slowly.
" I think something," he said, " that I cannot say
clearly. Or, rather, I think something that I can-
not even think clearly. But it is something hke
this. My early life, as you know, was a bit too
large and loose. Well, when I saw Sunday's face I
thought it was too large — everybody does, but I
also thought it was too loose. The face was so
big, that one couldn't focus it or make it a face at
all. The eye was so far away from the nose, that
it wasn't an eye. The mouth was so much by
itself, that one had to think of it by itself. The
whole thing is too hard to explain."
He paused for a httle, still trailing his stick, and
then went on —
" But put it this way. Walking up a road at
night, I have seen a lamp and a lighted window
and a cloud make together a most complete and
unmistakable face. If any one in heaven has that
face I shall know him again. Yet when I walked a
little farther I found that there was no face, that
the window was ten yards away, the lamp ten
hundred yards, the cloud beyond the world. Well,
Sunday's face escaped me ; it ran away to right and
254 THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
left, as such chance pictures run away. And so his
face has made me, somehow, doubt whether there
are any faces. I don't know whether your face,
Bull, is a face or a combination in perspective.
Perhaps one black disc of your beastly glasses is
quite close and another fifty miles away. Oh, the
doubts of a materialist are not worth a dump, Sun-
day has taught me the last and the worst doubts,
the doubts of a spiritualist. I am a Buddhist, I
suppose ; and Buddhism is not a creed, it is a doubt.
My poor dear Bull, I do not believe that you really
have a face. I have not faith enough to believe in
Syme's eyes were still fixed upon the errant orb,
which, reddened in the evening light, looked like
some rosier and more innocent world.
" Have you noticed an odd thing," he said,
" about all your descriptions ? Each man of you
finds Sunday quite different, yet each man of you
can only find one thing to compare him to — the
universe itself. Bull finds him like the earth in
spring, Gogol like the sun at noonday. The Secre-
tary is reminded of the shapeless protoplasm, and
the Inspector of the carelessness of virgin forests.
The Professor says he is like a changing landscape.
This is queer, but it is queerer still that I also have
THE SIX PHILOSOPHERS 255
had my odd notion about the President, and I
also find that I think of Sunday as I think of the
" Get on a little faster, Syme," said Bull ; " never
mind the balloon."
" When I first saw Sunday," said Syme slowly,
" I only saw his back ; and when I saw his back, I
knew he was the worst man in the world. His
neck and shoulders were brutal, like those of some
apish god. His head had a stoop that was hardly
human, like the stoop of an ox. In fact, I had at
once the revolting fancy that this was not a man at
all, but a beast dressed up in men's clothes."
" Get on," said Dr. Bull.
" And then the queer thing happened. I had
seen his back from the street, as he sat in the
balcony. Then I entered the hotel, and coming
round the other side of him, saw his face in the
sunlight. I lis face frightened me, as it did every
one ; but not because it was brutal, not because it
was evil. On the contrary, it frightened me because
it was so beautiful, because it was so good."
" Syme," exclaimed the Secretary, " are you
ill ? "
" It was like the face of some ancient archangel,
judging justly after heroic wars. There was laugh-
256 THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
ter in the eyes, and in the mouth honour and
sorrow. There was the same white hair, the same
great, grey-clad shoulders that I had seen from
behind. But when I saw him from behind I was
certain he was an animal, and when I saw him in
front I knew he was a god."
" Pan," said the Professor dreamily, " was a god
and an animal."
" Then, and again and always," went on Syme,
like a man talking to himself, " that has been for
me the mystery of Sunday, and it is also the mys-
tery of the world. When I see the horrible back, I
am sure the noble face is but a mask. When I see
the face but for an instant, I know the back is only
a jest. Bad is so bad, that we cannot but think
good an accident; good is so good, that we feel
certain that evil could be explained. But the whole
came to a kind of crest yesterday when I raced
Sunday for the cab, and was just behind him all
" Had you time for thinking then ? " asked
" Time," replied Syme, " for one outrageous
thought. I was suddenly possessed with the idea
that the blind, blank back of his head really was his
face — an awful, eyeless face staring at me ! And I
THE SIX PHILOSOPHERS 257
fancied that the figure running in front of me was
really a figure running backwards, and dancing as
" Horrible ! " said Dr. Bull, and shuddered.
" Horrible is not the word," said Syme. " It was
exactly the worst instant of my life. And yet ten
minutes afterwards, when he put his head out of
the cab and made a grimace like a gargoyle, I knew
that he was only like a father playing hide-and-
seek with his children."
" It is a long game," said the Secretary, and
frowned at his broken boots.
" Listen to me," cried Syme with extraordinary
emphasis. " Shall I tell you the secret of the whole
world ? It is that we have only known the back of
the world. We see everything from behind, and
it looks brutal. That is not a tree, but the back
of a tree. That is not a cloud, but the back of a
cloud. Cannot you see that everything is stooping
and hiding a face ? If we could only get round in
" Look ! " cried out Bull clamorously, "the balloon
is coming down ! "
There was no need to cry out to Syme, who had
never taken his eyes off it. He saw the great
luminous globe suddenly stap[gcr in the sky, right
258 THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
itself, and then sink slowly behind the trees like a
The man called Gogol, who had hardly spoken
through all their weary travels, suddenly threw up
his hands like a lost spirit.
" He is dead ! " he cried. " And now I know he
was my friend — my friend in the dark ! "
" Dead ! " snorted the Secretary. " You will not
find him dead easily. If he has been tipped out of
the car, we shall find him rolling as a colt rolls in a
field, kicking his legs for fun."
" Clashing his hoofs," said the Professor. " The
colts do, and so did Pan."
•' Pan again ! " said Dr. Bull irritably. " You
seem to think Pan is everything."
" So he is," said the Professor, " in Greek. He
" Don't forget," said the Secretary, looking down,
" that he also means Panic."
Syme had stood without hearing any of the
" It fell over there," he said shortly. " Let us
follow it ! "
Then he added with an indescribable gesture —
" Oh, if he has cheated us all by getting killed !
It would be like one of his larks."
THE SIX PHILOSOPHERS 259
He strode off towards the distant trees with a
new energy, his rags and ribbons fluttering in the
wind. The others followed him in a more footsore
and dubious manner. And almost at the same mo-
ment all six men realised that they were not alone
in the little field.
Across the square of turf a tall man was advanc-
ing towards them, leaning on a strange long staff
like a sceptre. He was clad in a fine but old-
fashioned suit with knee-breeches; its colour was
that shade between blue, violet and grey which can
be seen in certain shadows of the woodland. His
hair was whitish grey, and at the first glance, taken
along with his knee-breeches, looked as if it was
powdered. His advance was very quiet; but for
the silver frost upon his head, he might have been
one of the shadows of the wood.
" Gentlemen," he said, " my master has a carriage
waiting for you in the road just by."
" Who is your master ? " asked Syme, standing
" I was told you knew his name," said the man
There was a silence, and then the Secretary
" Where is this carriage ? "
26o THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
" It has been waiting only a few moments," said
the stranger. " My master has only just come
Syme looked left and right upon the patch of green
field in which he found himself. The hedges were
ordinary hedges, the trees seemed ordinary trees ;
yet he felt hke a man entrapped in fairy-land.
He looked the mysterious ambassador up and
down, but he could discover nothing except that
the man's coat was the exact colour of the purple
shadows, and that the man's face was the exact
colour of the red and brown and golden sky.
" Show us the place," Syme said briefly, and
without a word the man in the violet coat turned
his back and walked towards a gap in the hedge,
which let in suddenly the hght of a white road.
As the six wanderers broke out upon this thor-
oughfare, they saw the white road blocked by what
looked like a long row of carriages, such a row of
carriages as might close the approach to some house
in Park Lane. Along the side of these carriages
stood a rank of splendid servants, all dressed in the
grey-blue uniform, and all having a certain quality
of stateliness and freedom which would not com-
monly belong to the servants of a gentleman, but
rather to the officials and ambassadors of a great
THE SIX PHILOSOPHERS 261
king. There were no less than six carriages wait-
ing, one for each of the tattered and miserable
band. All the attendants (as if in court-dress) wore
swords, and as each man crawled into his carriage
they drew them, and saluted with a sudden blaze of
" What can it all mean ? " asked Bull of Syme as
they separated. '• Is this another joke of Sun-
day's ? "
" I don't know," said Syme as he sank wearily
back in the cushions of his carriage ; " but if it is,
it's one of the jokes you talk about. It's a good-
The six adventurers had passed through many
adventures, but not one had carried them so utterly
off their feet as this last adventure of comfort.
They had all become inured to things going
roughly ; but things suddenly going smoothly
swamped them. They could not even feebly
imagine what the carriages were ; it was enough
for them to know that they were carriages, and
carriages with cushions. They could not conceive
who the old man was who had led them ; but it
was quite enough that he had certainly led them to
Syme drove through a drifting darkness of trees
262 THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
in utter abandonment. It was typical of him that
while he had carried his bearded chin forward
fiercely so long as anything could be done, when
the whole business was taken out of his hands he
fell back on the cushions in a frank collapse.
Very gradually and very vaguely he realised into
what rich roads the carriage was carrying him. He
saw that they passed the stone gates of what might
have been a park, that they began gradually to
climb a hill which, while wooded on both sides, was
somewhat more orderly than a forest. Then there
began to grow upon him, as upon a man slowly
waking from a healthy sleep, a pleasure in every-
thing. He felt that the hedges were what hedges
should be, living walls ; that a hedge is like a
human army, disciplined, but all the more alive.
He saw high elms behind the hedges, and vaguely
thought how happy boys would be climbing there.
Then his carriage took a turn of the path, and he
saw suddenly and quietly, like a long, low, sunset
cloud, a long, low house, mellow in the mild light
of sunset. All the six friends compared notes after-
wards and quarrelled ; but they all agreed that in
some unaccountable way the place reminded them
of their boyhood. It was either this elm-top or that
crooked path, it was either this scrap of orchard or
THE SIX PHILOSOPHERS 263
that shape of a window ; but each man of them
declared that he could remember this place before
he could remember his mother.
When the carriages eventually rolled up to a large,
low, cavernous gateway, another man in the same
uniform, but wearing a silver star on the grey breast
of his coat, came out to meet them. This impress-
ive person said to the bewildered Syme —
'• Refreshments are provided for you in your
Syme, under the influence of the same mesmeric
sleep of amazement, went up the large oaken stairs
after the respectful attendant. He entered a splen-
did suite of apartments that seemed to be designed
specially for him. He walked up to a long mirror
with the ordinary instinct of his class, to pull his
tie straight or to smooth his hair ; and there he saw
the frightful figure that he was — blood running down
his face from where the bough had struck him, his
hair standing out like yellow rags of rank grass, his
clothes torn into long, wavering tatters. At once
the whole enigma sprang up, simply as the question
of how he had got there, and how he was to get out
again. Exactly at the same moment a man in blue,
who had been appointed as his valet, said very
264 THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
" I have put out your clothes, sir."
" Clothes ! " said Syme sardonically. " I have no
clothes except these," and he lifted two long strips
of his frock-coat in fascinating festoons, and made
a movement as if to twirl hke a ballet girl.
" My master asks me to say," said the attendant,
" that there is a fancy dress ball to-night, and that
he desires you to put on the costume that I have
laid out. Meanwhile, sir, there is a bottle of Bur-
gundy and some cold pheasant, which he hopes you
will not refuse, as it is some hours before supper."
" Cold pheasant is a good thing," said Syme re-
flectively, ** and Burgundy is a spanking good thing.
But really I do not want either of them so much as
I want to know what the devil all this means, and
what sort of costume you have got laid out for
me. Where is it ? "
The servant lifted off a kind of ottoman a long
peacock-blue drapery, rather of the nature of a
domino, on the front of which was emblazoned a
large golden sun, and which was splashed here and
there with flaming stars and crescents.
" You're to be dressed as Thursday, sir," said the
valet somewhat affably.
" Dressed as Thursday ! " said Syme in meditation,
" It doesn't sound a warm costume."
THE SIX PHILOSOPHERS 265
" Oh, yes, sir," said the other eagerly, " the Thurs-
day costume is quite warm, sir. It fastens up to
" Well, I don't understand anything," said Syme,
sighing. " I have been used so long to uncom-
fortable adventures that comfortable adventures
knock me out. Still, I may be allowed to ask why
I should be particularly like Thursday in a green
frock spotted all over with the sun and moon.
Those orbs, I think, shine on other days. I once
saw the moon on Tuesday, I remember."
" Beg pardon, sir," said the valet, " Bible also
provided for you," and with a respectful and rigid
finger he pointed out a passage in the first chapter
of Genesis. Syme read it wondering. It was that
in which the fourth day of the week is associated
with the creation of the sun and moon. Here,
however, they reckoned from a Christian Sunday.
" This is getting wilder and wilder," said Syme,
as he sat down in a chair. " Who are these people
who provide cold pheasant and Burgundy, and green
clothes and Bibles ? Do they provide everything ? "
" Yes, sir, everything," said the attendant gravely.
** Shall I help you on with your costume ? "
" Oh, hitch the bally thing on ! " said Syme im-
266 THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
But though he affected to despise the mummery,
he felt a curious freedom and naturalness in his
movements as the blue and gold garment fell about
him ; and when he found that he had to wear a
sword, it stirred a boyish dream. As he passed out
of the room he flung the folds across his shoulder
with a gesture, his sword stood out at an angle, and
he had all the swagger of a troubadour. For these
disguises did not disguise, but reveal.
As Syme strode along the corridor he saw the
Secretary standing at the tOj^.: of a great flight of
stairs. The man had never looked so noble. He
was draped in a long robe of starless black, down
the centre of which fell a band or broad stripe of
pure white, like a single shaft of light. The whole
looked like some very severe ecclesiastical vestment.
There was no need for Syme to search his memory
or the Bible in order to remember that the first day
of creation marked the mere creation of light out of
darkness. The vestment itself would alone have sug-
gested the symbol ; and Syme felt also how perfectly
this pattern of pure white and black expressed the
soul of the pale and austere Secretary, with his in-
human veracity and his cold frenzy, which made
him so easily make war on the anarchists, and yet
so easily pass for one of them. Syme was scarcely
surprised to notice that, amid all the ease and hos-
pitality of their new surroundings, this man's eyes
were still stern. No smell of ale or orchards could
268 THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
make the Secretary cease to ask a reasonable ques-
If Syme had been able to see himself, he would
have realised that he, too, seemed to be for the first
time himself and no one else. For if the Secretary
stood for that philosopher who loves the original
and formless light, Syme was a type of the poet who
seeks always to make the light in special shapes, to
split it up into sun and star. The philosopher may
sometimes love the infinite ; the poet always loves
the finite. For him the great moment is not the
creation of light, but the creation of the sun and
As they descended the broad stairs together they
overtook Ratcliffe, who was clad in spring green like
a huntsman, and the pattern upon whose garment
was a green tangle of trees. For he stood for that
third day on which the earth and green things were
made, and his square, sensible face, with its not
unfriendly cynicism, seemed appropriate enough
They were led out of another broad and low gate-
way into a very large old English garden, full of
torches and bonfires, by the broken light of which
a vast carnival of people were dancing in motley
dress. Syme seemed to see every shape in Nature
THE ACCUSER 269
imitated in some crazy costume. There was a man
dressed as a windmill with enormous sails, a man
dressed as an elephant, a man dressed as a balloon ;
the two last, together, seemed to keep the thread
of their farcical adventures. Syme even saw, with
a queer thrill, one dancer dressed like an enormous
hornbill, with a beak twice as big as himself — the
queer bird which had fixed itself on his fancy like a
living question while he was rushing down the long
road at the Zoological Gardens. There were a
thousand other such objects, however. There was
a dancing lamp-post, a dancing apple tree, a dancing
ship. One would have thought that the untamable
tune of some mad musician had set all the common
objects of field and street dancing an eternal jig.
And long afterwards, when Syme was middle-aged
and at rest, he could never see one of those particu-
lar objects — a lamp-post, or an apple tree, or a wind-
mill — without thinking that it was a strayed reveller
from that revel of masquerade.
On one side of this lawn, alive with dancers, was
a sort of green bank, like the terrace in such old-
Along this, in a kind of crescent, stood seven
great chairs, the thrones of the seven days. Gogol
and Dr. Bull were already in their seats; the
270 THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
Professor was just mounting to his. Gogol, or
Tuesday, had his simplicity well symbolised by a
dress designed upon the division of the waters, a
dress that separated upon his forehead and fell to
his feet, grey and silver, like a sheet of rain. The
Professor, whose day was that on which the birds
and fishes — the ruder forms of life — were created,
had a dress of dim purple, over which sprawled
goggle-eyed fishes and outrageous tropical birds,
the union in him of unfathomable fancy and of
doubt. Dr. Bull, the last day of Creation, wore a
coat covered with heraldic animals in red and gold,
and on his crest a man rampant. He lay back in
his chair with a broad smile, the picture of an opti-
mist in his element.
One by one the wanderers ascended the bank
and sat in their strange seats. As each of them sat
down a roar of enthusiasm rose from the carnival,
such as that with which crowds receive kings. Cups
were clashed and torches shaken, and feathered hats
flung in the air. The men for whom these thrones
were reserved were men crowned with some ex-
traordinary laurels. But the central chair was
Syme was on the left hand of it and the Secre-
tary on the right. The Secretary looked across the
THE ACCUSER 271
empty throne at Syme, and said, compressing his
" We do not know yet that he is not dead in a
Almost as Syme heard the words, he saw on the
sea of human faces in front of him a frightful and
beautiful alteration, as if heaven had opened behind
his head. But Sunday had only passed silently
along the front like a shadow, and had sat in the
central seat. He was draped plainly, in a pure and
terrible white, and his hair was like a silver flame on
For a long time — it seemed for hours — that huge
masquerade of mankind swayed and stamped in
front of them to marching and exultant music.
Every couple dancing seemed a separate romance ;
it might be a fairy dancing with a pillar-box, or a
peasant girl dancing with the moon ; but in each
case it was, somehow, as absurd as Alice in Won-
derland, yet as grave and kind as a love story. At
last, however, the thick crowd began to thin itself.
Couples strolled away into the garden-walks, or be-
gan to drift towards that end of the building where
stood smoking, in huge pots like fish-kettles, some
hot and scented mixtures of old ale or wine. Above
all these, upon a sort of black framework on the roof
272 THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
of the house, roared in its iron basket a gigantic
bonfire, which Ht up the land for miles. It flung
the homely effect of firelight over the face of vast
forests of grey or brown, and it seemed to fill with
warmth even the emptiness of upper night. Yet
this also, after a time, was allowed to grow fainter ;
the dim groups gathered more and more round the
great cauldrons, or passed, laughing and clattering,
into the inner passages of that ancient house. Soon
there were only some ten loiterers in the garden ;
soon only four. Finally the last stray merry-maker
ran into the house whooping to his companions.
The fire faded, and the slow, strong stars came out.
And the seven strange men were left alone, Hke
seven stone statues on their chairs of stone. Not
one of them had spoken a word.
They seemed in no haste to do so, but heard in
silence the hum of insects and the distant song of
one bird. Then Sunday spoke, but so dreamily
that he might have been continuing a conversation
rather than beginning one.
" We will eat and drink later," he said. " Let us
remain together a little, we who have loved each
other so sadly, and have fought so long. I seem to
remember only centuries of heroic war, in which
you were always heroes — epic on epic, iliad on
THE ACCUSER 273
iliad, and you always brothers in arms. Whether
it was but recently (for time is nothing), or at the
beginning of the world, I sent you out to war. I
sat in the darkness, where there is not any created
thing, and to you I was only a voice commanding
valour and an unnatural virtue. You heard the
voice in the dark, and you never heard it again.
The sun in heaven denied it, the earth and sky
denied it, all human wisdom denied it. And
when I met you in the dayhght I denied it my-
Syme stirred sharply in his seat, but otherwise
there was silence, and the incomprehensible went
" But you were men. You did not forget your
secret honour, though the whole cosmos turned an
engine of torture to tear it out of you. I knew
how near you were to hell. I know how you,
Thursday, crossed swords with King Satan, and
how you, Wednesday, named me in the hour with-
There was complete silence in the starlit garden,
and then the black-browed Secretary, implacable,
turned in his chair towards Sunday, and said in a
harsh voice —
" Who and what are you ? "
274 THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
" I am the Sabbath," said the other without
moving. " I am the peace of God."
The Secretary started up, and stood crushing his
costly robe in his hand.
" I know what you mean," he cried, " and it is
exactly that that I cannot forgive you. I know
you are contentment, optimism, what do they call
the thing, an ultimate reconciliation. Well, I am
not reconciled. If you were the man in the dark
room, why were you also Sunday, an offence to the
sunlight ? If you were from the first our father
and our friend, why were you also our greatest
enemy ? We wept, we fled in terror ; the iron
entered into our souls — and you are the peace of God !
Oh, I can forgive God His anger, though it destroyed
nations ; but I cannot forgive Him His peace."
Sunday answered not a word, but very slowly he
turned his face of stone upon Syme as if asking a
" No," said Syme, " I do not feel fierce like that.
I am grateful to you, not only for wine and hospi-
tahty here, but for many a fine scamper and free
fight. But I should like to know. My soul and
heart are as happy and quiet here as this old gar-
den, but my reason is still crying out. I should
like to know."
THE ACCUSER 275
Sunday looked at Ratcliffe, whose clear voice
" It seems so silly that you should have been on
both sides and fought yourself."
Bull said —
" I understand nothing, but I am happy. In
fact, I am going to sleep."
" I am not happy," said the Professor with his
head in his hands, " because I do not understand.
You let me stray a little too near to hell."
And then Gogol said, with the absolute simplicity
of a child —
" I wish I knew why I was hurt so much."
Still Sunday said nothing, but only sat with his
mighty chin upon his hand, and gazed at the dis-
tance. Then at last he said —
"I have heard your complaints in order. And
here, I think, comes another to complain, and we
will hear him also."
The falling fire in the great cresset threw a last
long gleam, like a bar of burning gold, across the
dim grass. Against this fiery band was outlined in
utter black the advancing legs of a black-clad
figure. He seemed to have a fine close suit with
knee-breeches such as that which was worn by the
servants of the house, only that it was not blue, but
276 THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
of this absolute sable. He had, like the servants,
a kind of sword by his side. It was only when he
had come quite close to the crescent of the seven
and flung up his face to look at them, that Syme
saw, with thunderstruck clearness, that the face was
the broad, almost ape-like face of his old friend
Gregory, with its rank red hair and its insulting
" Gregory ! " gasped Syme, half-rising from his
seat. " Why, this is the real anarchist ! "
" Yes," said Gregory, with a great and dangerous
restraint, •' I am the real anarchist."
•" And there came a day,' " murmured Bull, who
seemed really to have fallen asleep, " * when the
sons of God came before the Lord, and Satan also
came with them.' "
" You are right," said Gregory, and gazed all
round. " I am a destroyer. I would destroy the
world if I could."
A sense of a pathos far under the earth stirred
up in Syme, and he spoke brokenly and without
" Oh, most unhappy man," he cried, « try
to be happy ! You have red hair like your
" My red hair, like red flames, shall burn up the
THE ACCUSER 277
world," said Gregory. " I thought I hated every-
thing more than common men can hate anything ;
but I find that I do not hate everything so much as
I hate you ! "
" I never hated you," said Syme very sadly.
Then out of this unintelligible creature the last
«« You ! " he cried. " You never hated because
you never lived. I know what you are all of you,
from first to last— you are the people in power!
You are the police— the great fat, smiling men in
blue and buttons ! You are the Law, and you have
never been broken. But is there a free soul alive
that does not long to break you, only because you
have never been broken ? We in revolt talk all
kind of nonsense doubtless about this crime or that
crime of the Government. It is all folly! The
only crime of the Government is that it governs.
The unpardonable sin of the supreme power is that
it is supreme. I do not curse you for being cruel.
I do not curse you (though I might) for being kind.
I curse you for being safe ! You sit in your chairs
of stone, and have never come down from them.
You are the seven angels of heaven, and you have
had no troubles. Oh, I could forgive you every-
thing, you that rule all mankind, if I could feel for
278 THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
once that you had suffered for one hour a real
agony such as I "
Syme sprang to his feet, shaking from head to
" I see everything," he cried, " everything that
there is. Why does each thing on the earth war
against each other thing? Why does each small
thing in the world have to fight against the world
itself? Why does a fly have to fight the whole
universe ? Why does a dandelion have to fight the
whole universe ? For the same reason that I had
to be alone in the dreadful Council of the Days.
So that each thing that obeys law may have the
glory and isolation of the anarchist. So that each
man fighting for order may be as brave and good a
man as the dynamiter. So that the real lie of
Satan may be flung back in the face of this blasphe-
mer, so that by tears and torture we may earn the
right to say to this man, ' You lie ! ' No agonies
can be too great to buy the right to say to this ac-
cuser, ' We also have suffered.'
" It is not true that we have never been broken.
We have been broken upon the wheel. It is not
true that we have never descended from these
thrones. We have descended into hell. We were
complaining of unforgettable miseries even at the
THE ACCUSER 279
very moment when this man entered insolently to
accuse us of happiness. I repel the slander; we
have not been happy, I can answer for every one
of the great guards of Law whom he has accused.
At least "
He had turned his eyes so as to see suddenly the
great face of Sunday, which wore a strange smile.
" Have you," he cried in a dreadful voice, " have
you ever suffered ? "
As he gazed, the great face grew to an awful
size, grew larger than the colossal mask of Mem-
non, which had made him scream as a child. It
grew larger and larger, filling the whole sky ; then
everything went black. Only in the blackness be-
fore it entirely destroyed his brain he seemed to hear
a distant voice saying a commonplace text that he
had heard somewhere, " Can ye drink of the cup
that I drmk of ? "
When men in books awake from a vision, they
commonly find themselves in some place in which
they might have fallen asleep ; they yawn in a chair,
or lift themselves with bruised limbs from a field,
Syme's experience was something much more
psychologically strange if there was indeed anything
unreal, in the earthly sense, about the things he
28o THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
had gone through. For while he could always re-
member afterwards that he had swooned before the
face of Sunday, he could not remember having ever
come to at all. He could only remember that
gradually and naturally he knew that he was and
had been walking along a country lane with an
easy and conversational companion. That com-
panion had been a part of his recent drama ; it was
the red-haired poet Gregory. They were walking
like old friends, and were in the middle of a con-
versation about some triviality. But Syme could
only feel an unnatural buoyancy in his body and a
crystal simplicity in his mind that seemed to be
superior to everything that he said or did. He felt
he was in possession of some impossible good news,
which made every other thing a triviality, but an
Dawn was breaking over everything in colours at
once clear and timid ; as if Nature made a first at-
tempt at yellow and a first attempt at rose. A
breeze blew so clean and sweet, that one could not
think that it blew from the sky; it blew rather
through some hole in the sky. Syme felt a simple
surprise when he saw rising all round him on both
sides of the road the red, irregular buildings of
Saffron Park. He had no idea that he had walked
THE ACCUSER 281
so near London. He walked by instinct along one
white road, on which early birds hopped and sang,
and found himself outside a fenced garden. There
he saw the sister of Gregory, the girl with the gold-
red hair, cutting lilac before breakfast, with the
great unconscious gravity of a girl.
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